Walking for a cause

Stepping up . . . Raising money and awareness for prostate cancer is Wyndham fire brigade member Kailey Yeoman, who is walking the streets of her town each day this month in her firefighting gear. PHOTO: MICHAEL CURREEN

Walking 2km every day in her firefighting gear is the least Kailey Yeoman says she can do for her hero during prostate cancer awareness month.
The Wyndham Volunteer Fire Brigade member said she came up with the challenge to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer.
‘‘I’ve got a family member who’s got prostate cancer who was also in the fire brigade.

“He’s a life member and he’s just one of the strongest people I know.
‘‘This one’s definitely for him.’’
At the end of the month, she will have walked 60km in her level two fire brigade gear.
‘‘That’s the big heavy-duty stuff.
“I’m wearing my breathing apparatus on my back as well. It’s roughly about 15-20kg.
‘‘By the end of it, especially when it’s hot, it gets pretty sweaty.’’
She has had to endure the elements on some days, she said.
‘‘There’s been a couple times where it’s like gale-force winds and torrential rain and there’s been snow in the mornings.
‘‘Those days are tough, but nothing compared to what they have to go through when they get chemo.’’
People had been very supportive of the challenge, with family and friends sometimes walking with her, she said.
‘‘Fenz [Fire and Emergency New Zealand] and the Wyndham volunteer fire brigade have been crazy amazing.

“I’ve had half the brigade join in.’’

‘‘The other day I went with the chief of the brigade and we went down the main street everywhere so people could see us.’’
The Three Rivers Hotel had got behind her as well, donating the proceeds from one of its meat raffles to her fundraiser.
‘‘I’ve got a few buckets around Wyndham and stuff,’’ she said.
She also has a page on justgiving.com called ‘‘Kailey’s Fire fighter walk’’.
She was pleased to have raised close to $1000 so far.
‘‘I get some weird stares.
“There was one day when we walked around here and there were young kids playing rugby and they were all pointing.’’

However, generating attention was the point of her challenge.
‘‘Obviously cancer’s a big thing in our family, so I’m always open to raising awareness.’’
The challenge had got easier as time went on and she felt it was even making her a better firefighter.

‘‘I know how to put [my gear] on quicker now.’’
It was also good training for the Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge in Auckland, something she had set her sights on since she first joined the brigade almost five years ago.
‘‘I’ve never been able to get into it because there’s hardly any spots. What they do is they
walk up all the stairs of the Sky Tower in all their gear.’’
The challenge raised money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, another cause Ms Yeoman was keen to get behind.
‘‘They’ve opened a few more spots for these coming years so hopefully we can get in, because there’s a few people here
wanting to do it.’’