Getting up with the sparrows on a Sunday is not high on my list of fun things to do on a weekend. It’s for a great cause I tell myself, as I drag myself out of bed at 5am.
A group of 16 students from Taylor, Middlemore and a couple of guys are joining me on the Sunrise Walk – a 5km walk around the beautiful Auckland Botanical Gardens to help raise money for Totara Hospice South Auckland.
The other 16 King’s students who have volunteered to assist with marshaling on the walk have been there since 6am racing around setting up. The crowds start arriving and it’s a kaleidoscope of colour as families, dogs, kids young and old, all join in with the a mass aerobic warm-up, set against the most spectacular sunrise.
And we’re off. We take off fast at the front to ensure the five Ray White yellow ducks are in their correct positions around the walk. There’s a competition to find all five ducks. Along the way we hear so many stories from other walkers. We meet a 6 year-old boy – the lanyard around his neck says “Walking for Gramps”. He’s here with six of his family – this is their fourth Sunrise Walk in memory of their grandfather. Everyone we meet seems to have a story; most have been touched by Hospice in some way.
What happens after the walk is most humbling. There is a gala of tents where local businesses such as Hahutamaki who are loyal supporters of Hospice, are giving away bags of fresh eggs, apples and cherry tomatoes. Coverstaff have a continuous sausage sizzle and local monks are serving piping hot soup. Fountain Funerals hand me a beautiful bouquet of fresh flows and hug me saying they are in memory of someone I loved.
I have tears in my eyes. Last month, the mother of a friend and ex-King’s student, Holly Greenwood, sadly passed away at just 50. She was one of the most positive people I have met. Holly’s mum spent some of her last few days in the welcoming comfort and care at Hospice surrounded by family and friends, and all of a sudden the meaning of what we have just walked for has become very clear. Hospice will touch the lives of each and every one of us at some point in our lives.
I would like to thank all the students and staff who gave up their sleep-in on Sunday to participate in this worthwhile cause.
I would like to pay a special tribute to Toni Nelson, a remarkable mother, wife, aunt, daughter and friend. I am very proud that the money that students at King’s College will raise will go directly to help continue the invaluable service Totara South Auckland Hospice provide.
There is still time to contribute. We have until Tuesday, 21 April to get in our donations and sponsorship money. So either find a walker to sponsor or just visit www.givealittle.co.nz