Successful walk raises thousands for autism

Friday, 10th August, 2012

The sore but happy RANN walkers back in Wellington. The sore but happy RANN walkers back in Wellington.

By Emily Roberts

A group of walkers who started in Broken Hill have arrived at their destination - sore but happy to be home.

Wellington residents Aimy Thorne and her mother, Valerie Newall established non-forprofit group "Rural and Remote Autism Network" (RRAN) to assist rural and remote families with a loved one with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Aimy, whose seven-yearold son has autism, and her mother decided to walk from Broken Hill to Wellington to raise awareness and money for Autism.

Aimy and the RRAN team of about 10 left Broken Hill on July 18 to walk to Wellington.

"Local Stacey Evers has been helping us out, she is heavily involved. We both have seven-year-old autistic sons," Aimy said.

"I am a nurse, and I knew of autism but I didn't know the depth of it. (When I had my son) it was a big learning curve, it consumes all your life.

But I am very passionate about it, which makes it easier."

Aimy said it was great to be home.

"We arrived back on Saturday, it is great to get back into town," she said.

When the walkers reached the town limits, they were greeted by Wellington locals who walked into the city with them.

A barbecue was also held and a day at one of their parks.

Aimy said all the walkers held up well.

"We were all pretty good. We were physically fine but mentally drained. It was a long 18 days," she said.

"There were no big injuries, we were incident free and the weather was perfect. We couldn't have asked for anything better."

Aimy said overall all the walkers enjoyed their time and even though they were all rural people they appreciated how beautiful the scenery was.

"There were highlights in every town; we were invited into a special needs class in Cobar. Every town had their own story, it made it worthwhile," she said.

Aimy said there was a stretch of the walk between Wilcannia and Cobar, where they were unreachable.

"It was tricky, because we were given a satellite phone and it didn't want to co-operate," she said.

"We couldn't update Facebook or our website. When we did get signal the email and messages flooded in."

Aimy said each day the group walked from 7.30am until 4pm.

"It was a requirement by the RTA," she said.

She said the walk had raised $8000 and they were still counting.

"We are hoping to get to the $10,000 mark," Aimy said.

"We are ecstatic we have raised this much."

She said she wasn't sure if they would make the walk an annual thing.

"The legalities were such a big thing, we just want to get over this one - it's not a yes and it's not a no."

For more information visit www.ruralautism.org or www.facebook.com/pages/Rural-and-Remote-Autism-Network-RRAN.