Locals step up to the challenge for Steptember

September 15, 2021 BY

Participants in this year's Steptember initiative at the Geelong Neuro Centre (from left) Aislinn, Sara Coulter (director), Nicole, Sarah Kolodziej, Joel and Darcy.

AN AUSTRALIAN child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy every 20 hours and it is the most common physical disability in childhood today.

Throughout the month of September, people across the region and the country are putting one foot in front of the other as part of ‘Steptember’, an annual campaign that aims to raise funds and awareness for Australians living with cerebral palsy.

The initiative began on September 1, with all participants and teams committed to walking 10,000 steps every 24 hours over the month’s 30 days.

Residents from all over the Bellarine, Geelong and the Surf Coast are undertaking the challenge, as well as spreading their message over social media.

The Geelong Neuro Centre operating out of Belmont is one of many local organisations participating in this year’s campaign and given the centre has many patients living with the disease, it provides a good opportunity for the business to give back to their valued customers.

“We see a lot of clients with cerebral palsy and we think it’s always good to give back and raise some money, but more importantly raise some awareness,” said occupational therapist Sarah Kolodziej.

“I think we all here at the centre can say we have a strong connection with our clients, whether it’s those with cerebral palsy or otherwise.

“But they give us so much and it’s nice to be able to give back and do something for the wider community with cerebral palsy as well.”

The Geelong Neuro Centre currently has 25 staff members involved, with teams of four being formed and organised by Ms Kolodziej.

Barwon Paediatrics in Geelong’s CBD is another business taking on donations for Steptember, with staff member and organiser for the practice Brianna Taylor participating for a fourth straight year.

“I do it every year to help keep me a little bit motivated and any additional funds that can go towards helping people with these diagnoses is great,” Ms Taylor said. “I also have an acquaintance who has a daughter that has cerebral palsy and I just decided to see if anyone else in the workplace wanted to get involved this year.”

Two of the practice’s doctors and two other staff members have joined Ms Taylor in her efforts this year, sparking some healthy inter-office competition.

While businesses play a big part in initiating fundraisers, individuals are also able to conduct their own fundraisers during Steptember.

People like Curlewis resident and regional manager of Zurich Insurance Company, Hamish Maclean, are actively encouraged at work to engage with community focused programs.

“Steptember is an event that we have supported for a number of years,” Mr Maclean said.

“Supporting people with cerebral palsy is a fantastic cause and the more that can be done to support people living with this awful disease the better.

“As well as that, with so much of my time spent working from home behind a desk these days it seemed like a great opportunity to combine work and exercise.”

Mr Maclean’s employer will also be matching donations raised by its employees and an extra $5 to every employee who accumulates over 10,000 steps a day.

So far this year, Steptember has raised more than $6 million. To donate or find out more about the initiative head to steptember.org.au.

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