Wallan woman Rachel Swain is preparing for a wilderness trek in Tasmania later this year to raise money for research into multiple sclerosis. Ms Swain has raised more than $2000 so far.

By Colin MacGillivray

WALLAN’S Rachel Swain is preparing for the trip of a lifetime as she raises money for multiple sclerosis, MS, research.

Ms Swain will spend four days trekking in Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park on the famous Overland Track in October as part of a fundraising effort for Multiple Sclerosis Limited, an information and support service for people affected by MS.

MS is a disease in which the immune system strips the protective covering of nerves, disrupting communication between the brain and body. It can result in vision loss, pain, fatigue and loss of coordination.

MS is the most commonly diagnosed disease of the central nervous system and disproportionately affects young people, with 30 being the average age of diagnosis. There is currently no known cure for the disease.

Ms Swain, who works for Multiple Sclerosis Limited as a support coordinator, said she was inspired to help raise money for a cure after serving as a carer for people with the disease.

“I used to work as an assistant in nursing and I used to work with people who had MS, so as a carer I had seen what people would go through,” she said.

“It was just something that when I moved here and saw the job come up with MS, I jumped at the opportunity because I had that connection. To be able to fundraise for them is an added bonus.”

Ms Swain said the idea of a trek in Tasmania was particularly appealing after she took up hiking as a way of keeping fit.

“I thought this hike was right up my alley. I had to write an application to represent the company in this year’s challenge. In other years they’ve done challenges at places like the Great Wall of China, and this year was Cradle Mountain,” she said.

“I put in my application and was successful, so I started raising money through friends, family and work colleagues.

“It was all online at first because we were going into lockdown again, so it was near impossible to organise any events to raise money.”

Ms Swain intended to host her first in-person fundraiser with a sausage sizzle at Bunnings Seymour at the weekend, but was unable to do so because of Victoria’s sixth COVID-19 lockdown.

Instead, she hosted what she termed a ‘virtual sausage sizzle’, offering people pictures of Bunnings sausages for $2.50 each.

She raised more than $150 with the event, taking her total raised to more than $2200 of a $3000 personal goal.

“Mostly I’ve done it through social media and I raised over $2100 just through social media with my Facebook page and LinkedIn,” she said.

As one of more than 30 people undertaking the trek, Ms Swain said the overall target was $100,000.

“I will be doing it with a group of people from all over Australia who have MS or have friends and family who have MS. They’re also fundraising,” she said.

Ms Swain said she expected the trip to be physically demanding, but ultimately rewarding.

“We can’t do the full trek all the way to the very top [of Cradle Mountain] because some of the people in our group won’t be able to go all the way to the top,” she said.

“Some days we’ll be doing up to 15 kilometres, so we have to do quite a lot of training in the lead-up.”

People can donate to Ms Swain’s fundraising page by visiting www.doitforms.org.au/fundraisers/rachelswain/conquer-cradle-mountain.