A walk on the wild side: one granny’s journey for St John

Ian Henderson |

A hard-walking Northland granny is tramping the length of New Zealand to raise money for St John, and in memory of her late brother.

Linda Donaldson set herself the challenge of walking the Te Araroa Trail to fundraise for St John in 2012

Her ‘Hike For Hearts’, as she titled it, was inspired by the tragic early death of her brother Lloyd, and a desire to – as she says – “live life without regrets”.

Linda completed the North Island section of the Trail last year, and started the South Island section in the Queen Charlotte Sound on 31 December.  She has been joined on this section of her journey by a friend from the United States, Samantha Broxholm, who flew in from California to join Linda on the rigorous South Island part of the journey.

Linda, who is 51 years old and a grandmother, has wanted to walk the Te Araroa Trail since she was a child, when she was inspired by the pioneering efforts of New Zealand long distance walker, author and publisher A.H. Reed.

Her brother’s untimely death from a sudden cardiac arrest helped give her further impetus.

So far, Linda has raised over $5,000 via FundraiseOnline for an automated external defibrillator (AED), a piece of lifesaving equipment which is used by St John to help save people’s lives.  She hopes to raise $10,000.

Linda says: “St John is a trustworthy charity that cares for our community.  More defibrillators means more lives saved, and that’s why I support St John.”

Sarah Wilkinson, St John Fundraising Manager, says Linda and her support team (including her husband Jim) have put in some long hours for St John, in their drive to fundraise for the defibrillator.

“Linda’s efforts are fantastic,” says Sarah.  “We’re incredibly thankful to her for her hard work and enterprising achievement on our behalf.  One of the drivers St John has is promoting health and wellbeing, and Linda’s efforts are a great example of this.”

““The Te Araroa Trail is a national icon, much like St John itself,” says Sarah.  “Also like St John, the Trail is right across New Zealand and touches so many communities.  We’re really pleased that Linda chose to support us as she completes this very special challenge in her life.”

Linda Donaldson is currently walking the South Island leg of the Te Araroa Trail with her tramping companion Samantha Broxholm.  Her projected schedule is:

  • Nelson-Marlborough area: 10-31 January
  • North and Mid Canterbury: 1-19 February
  • South Canterbury: 20-28 February
  • Otago: 1-11 March
  • Southland: 12-25 March
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