Grieving mothers, Belinda Moore and Maria Topalian, are honouring their daughter’s dying wish to “pay it forward” after her sudden death from complications brought on by cancer.
The couple will embark on a 20-day, 742 kilometre trek from Adelaide to Melbourne in October to raise much-needed funds and awareness for Redkite, a leading national cancer charity supporting children and families facing cancer, and have set themselves an ambitious goal to raise $50,000 for Redkite.
In December 2018, their daughter Natalie Vari, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when she was 24 years old. She died unexpectedly from a lung infection after an unsuccessful stem cell transplant, just seven months after her initial diagnosis.
“Natalie was fit and healthy prior to her diagnosis and engaged life to the fullest. From that day the world our family knew changed forever. We lived and breathed cancer for the next seven months,” Belinda said.
Natalie endured three rounds of intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment and acquired a lung infection after an unsuccessful stem cell transplant.
Belinda and Maria will walk for their daughter Natalie who passed away in June 2019.
Maria and Belinda, from Newton, said that the support Redkite offered Natalie and the family made the at times impossible cancer journey, possible.
“When Nat was diagnosed, we took time off work to be by Nat’s side. When paid leave had been exhausted, we took leave without pay. Redkite’s financial support for our family helped us to buy food when funds were low and petrol vouchers allowed us to get to the hospital daily,” Belinda said.
“Redkite makes such a difference for families when you have a child with cancer. Even now Redkite is still offering ongoing support by their incredible social workers,” Maria added.
“We chose to walk to Melbourne because we wanted to challenge ourselves. We watched Nat go through such a gruelling chemo regime and a transplant regime and it really destroyed her. It took so much mental strength for her to get through it.
“Walking over 700 kilometres will really push ourselves physically to try and get some sort of context of what Nat endured,” Belinda said.
The couple must average 30 kilometres a day in all kinds of conditions to cover the 742km journey between the two state capitals.
This feat of physical and emotional endurance will take place in October, and Maria and Belinda are on the lookout for fundraisers and sponsors to help kick-start their $50,000 quest. They have already raised well-over $2000 so far.
Redkite CEO, Monique Keighery, said she deeply admired the mothers’ strength and generosity to help other families facing their child’s cancer despite their own personal grief.
“It can cost around $2500 for Redkite to provide essential emotional and financial support for a family for a year, so Maria and Belinda’s efforts will help 20 families if they reach their goal which is significant.
“It’s amazing to see people like Belinda and Maria pay it forward for families facing cancer. They are remarkable and inspiring women. All of us at Redkite will be following their trek and cheering them on every step of the way as they honour their Natalie and support other families,” she said.
“It was Nat’s hope to be able to pay it forward in life,” Maria added.
“She didn’t get the chance but, with this walk, we will do it for her.”
To find out how you can get involved, please visit: https://walkorrunforredkite.everydayhero.com/au/team-vari-we-got-this
You can follow their journey on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/makethejourneycount/
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.