Breast cancer: Gael‘s 100kms in 30 Days

Gael McKimm. Supplied photo.

It’s going to be hard to beat Gael McKimm when it comes to the Aotearoa 100kms in 30 Days event.

The Octogenarian, with her trusty walker, has signed up for this upcoming 100km fundraising event organised by Tauranga’s Breast Cancer Support Service.

Word on the street is, she’ll score top marks for her dogged, against-all-odds determination.

Gael, who lives in Mt Maunganui, isn’t going to let old age or multiple health challenges stand in her way.

She’s 81, is a breast cancer survivor, has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (requiring chemotherapy treatment about every three years) and has fused back bones, which causes on-going pain. On top of that she’s profoundly deaf, and, thanks to macular degeneration, her eyesight isn’t exactly 20/20.

She also has an aversion to “sitting in a chair all day”. Her message to the more able-bodied? “Just get out and walk. It’s fun”.

The 100kms in 30 days event will be held over the 30 days of May and Gael is already in planning mode.

She has her Fitbit and is keeping track of her training distances (her Fitbit readings show up on her ipad – easier to read, she explains).  

As regards meeting the 100km target, Gael reckons two daily walks, covering a total of 5kms a day should do it.

At present her route mainly involves the Pilot Bay boardwalk and then through town, with the direction changing to suit her mood, she tells.

Over May she plans to head surf-side, and maybe even tackle some of Tauranga’s Daisy Hardwick boardwalk.

Throughout all this, Gael will have a good dose of family support at her side.

In fact, it’s her daughter, Karen Dovey, who is responsible for Gael’s event participation to start with.

“My daughter said: ‘do you reckon we could do 100ks in 30 days’, and I said, ‘with a push, yes.’ The next thing I knew, she had signed me up. If she thinks I can do it, then I know I can. She’s bought me a good raincoat too, so I am ready to go!”

Karen will take part, as will her daughter, Kat Dovey.

Kat has two young children, so on some days, Gael’s happy to report there may even be four generations of her family pounding the pavement.

“I didn’t realise how this would impact on us as a family. It’s going to keep us close together,” she beams.

Karen has recently posted news of her mother’s intention on Facebook. Gael, and most of her friends, have Facebook pages and the response has been encouraging.

She’s hoping those supportive friends will sponsor her.

Gael, who shrugs off any suggestion that she is an inspiration, suspects she may well be the oldest participant and wants people to think “if she can do it; I can do it”.

Those keen to sponsor Gael, or follow her lead, can head to to do so, and find out more about the event. It’s not too late to sign up to get involved.

Breast Cancer Support Service Tauranga Trust manager Helen Alice says people of all ages, genders and capabilities are encouraged to sign up to cover 100kms during May.

The kilometres can be tackled on foot, on water, or wheels (bikes, wheelchairs, scooters), or a combination of the three.

Sign up and sponsorship is already underway and interest is strong. Participation is not restricted to the Bay of Plenty and it’s “certainly not just a woman thing”.

The Trust hopes to raise $30,000 from the event, being staged at a time when fundraising is “really tight” for the charity, Helen says.

The charitable trust provides emotional and a range of practical support, and works from the principle of survivors supporting those newly diagnosed.

Gael is one of those survivors who benefited from the Tauranga charity and she is thrilled to have found such a special way of giving back.

See for more about the trust, which has been supporting the newly diagnosed for 30 years and has about 220 referrals each year.

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