Bill van Nierop, 63, of Redland Bay won’t let lung disease stand in his way of raising money for Lung Foundation Australia.
On August 14, he will embark on the Long Walk for Lungs, a 697km, 15-day marathon leaving Narromine on August 14 and arriving in Forbes on September 1 for a gala celebration dinner.
The charity walk takes in Trundle, Condobolin, Lake Cargelligo, Griffith, Leeton, Barellan, Weethalle and West Wyalong, all .towns Mr van Neirop has a familiarity with as the HR manager for AGnVET, an agricultural business with stores in rural Australia. There will be donation buckets at all stores.
Mr van Nierop said AGnVET had been wonderfully supportive not only of the charity walk, but of him personally as he manages Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) a chronic and incurable lung disease he was diagnosed with in 2015.
“ Idiopathic means that the cause of IPF is unknown. Smoking is a key contributor and a lot of baby boomers would have tried smoking. One in 10 Australians are impacted by lung disease, and there is a stigma attached in respect to both smoking and age. It is interesting that about 30 to 35 per cent of women currently suffering with lung cancer have never smoked,” he said.
A key symptom of the disease for Mr Van Nierop is shortness of breath with exertion, and he also experiences nausea as a side effect of the drug he is using to slow progress of the disease. This is something he says won’t stop him from maintaining fitness and tackling challenges.
“There are drugs which slow the progress of the condition and extend your life. Ultimately, you just have to live with it. I hope that this walk will make people aware of the condition and of lung disease in general,” he said.
Mr van Nierop said he had created this challenge after walking the City to Surf in New South Wales in 2016 and raising $16,000. Already, he has raised $47,000 of his $100,000 fund raising target and will raise more during the walk. Joining him for various legs of the walk will be children from various country schools and his wife Lesley for the last two days.
“I will be talking at a couple of school assembly’s in a couple of rural centres, then have some of the children walk with me for about a kilometer. It’s all about raising awareness of the condition and I will raise funds as I go. I believe the Forbes Rugby Club is donating proceeds from a charity day. I will be rattling a tin at football matches and any other country events,” he said.
Mr van Nierop will also visit the rural AGnVET stores in the various towns, to personally thank the staff and suppliers for their fund raising initiatives.
Anyone wanting to donate can visit www.longwalkforlungs.com.au/