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30 April, 2021

Walking for the battlers

QUEENSLAND NRL veteran, Chris Walker has embarked on a gruelling 1757 kilometre walk from Cairns to the Gold Coast, a mind-jarring 2.5 million steps.

By Peter McCullagh

Nate Myles, Mark Nolan, Shane Knuth and Chris Walker. PHOTO: Bronwyn Wheatcroft

The journey is expected to take him and his star-studded support crew 66 days.

Walker will be trekking through rugby league heartland during his journey, and with the support of the Queensland Rugby League and Puma, he will conduct a series of club visits and rugby league clinics along the way.

Joining Walker on his trek will be a number of sportsmen and personalities including fellow former NRL and State of Origin great Nate Myles, Olympic gold medallist Stephen Bradbury, world surfing champion Joel Parkinson and Logie-winning actor Lincoln Lewis.

Although the trek has only just commenced, Walker has no doubt as to how difficult it will be.

“I’m a little bit tired, a little bit weary!

“About 64 days to go,” he said.”

A former elite athlete, Walker knows first-hand what it is like to overcome challenges.

“I’m walking for Australian individuals, families and communities, still reeling from the long-lasting impact of COVID-19,” Walker said.

“The walk is my way of helping them to fight back and assist those who have felt the impact of poor mental health, suicide, drug and alcohol, and domestic violence abuse.”

Walker is partnering with new charity fundraising platform Fund My Challenge, a challenge-based charity app which has been created to revolutionise the giving process. Funds raised will benefit Beyond Blue, RizeUp Australia, and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

Demand for the specialist services offered by all three charities has been at record levels over the past 18 months - a fact not lost on Walker, who wants to help everyday Australians with every step of his walk.

Joining with Walker for the Cairns to Townsville leg is former NRL and Origin hardman, Nate Myles.

“I had to join in this trek. My good mate and former origin teammate Carl Webb is doing it tough. Since diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease, Charlie could have just given up. We are heading into Townsville to lend support with a fundraiser for his new foundation.”

The Cassowary Coast and Innisfail has welcomed Walker and his band of walkers.

The trekkers were greeted by Cassowary Coast Mayor Mark Nolan and Councillors along with Member for Hill, Shane Knuth.

Shane Knuth, knows well the impact that COVID has had on the community.

“Since COVID we have seen a massive rise in social isolation, alcohol abuse, domestic violence as well as suicide.

“Chris Walker is a machine. He is raising the awareness on all these subjects and raising much needed funds for the charities along the way,” Knuth said.

The walk route has been designed to take in the Cowboys versus Broncos game on May 8 in Townsville, where Walker will walk into the stadium with close friend and former Queensland rugby league star Carl Webb, who is currently battling motor neurone disease. A special function being organised prior to the Cowboys versus Broncos match will raise funds for the Carl Webb Foundation.

The walk then continues south, arriving in Brisbane in time for Origin Game II at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, June 27.

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