Trekking to end avoidable blindness

Diana Shaw and Leonie Bradford. 193598 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Jed Lanyon

Leonie Bradford and Diana Shaw, of Healesville are two of the 3000 trekkers gearing up for this year’s Wild Women On Top Melbourne Coastrek on Friday 24 May, which raises vital funds for The Fred Hollows Foundation’s work to end avoidable blindness.

Ms Bradford and Ms Shaw are training hard for the 30 kilometre trek, which raises important funds to help restore sight in some of the world’s poorest communities.

According to the Fred Hollows Foundation, at least 55 per cent of the world’s blind are women and most live in low-middle income countries.

Women are also 1.3 times more likely to be blind or vision impaired than men, and most significantly, four out of five of them don’t need to be as their eye conditions can be easily prevented or treated.

Ms Bradford said she has completed three 20 kilometre long, hard walks so far, with more planned for the upcoming weeks.

She said her aunt is the reason why she is participating in the trek.

“I’ve always wanted to partake in a challenging fundraising walk,” Ms Bradford said.

“So my aunty suggested we apply for Melbourne Coastrek.

“Both of her children have left home so she now has time to tick off a few bucket list items, so I thought I’d jump in and walk the 30 kilometres while raising money for Fred,” she said.

Wild Women On Top Coastrek is one of Australia’s most popular fundraising adventure trekking series, celebrating more than 30,000 trekkers since 2009.

Gabi Hollows, founding director of The Fred Hollows Foundation said, “I am always moved and inspired to see people still going to such great lengths to continue Fred’s legacy of a world where no person is needlessly blind.”

“To everyone participating in this year’s Melbourne Coastrek, thank you for taking on this challenge and helping us give the gift of sight to people around the world, we are incredibly grateful for your support,” she said.

Founder and CEO of Wild Women On Top Coastrek, Di Westaway, said Coastrek was a way for women to come together for their own health and wellbeing, while also changing the lives of others.

“Coastrek has an even greater impact on the millions of women and girls who make up more than half of the world’s blind,” she said.

“By taking part in Coastrek, women are restoring sight to other women, which helps them to return to work so they can provide for themselves and their families, and also helps girls to return to school and continue their education.”

Teams participating in Coastrek must have four members and at least two female members.

To support Ms Bradford and Ms Shaw to raise funds for Melbourne Coastrek’s overall goal of $2 million, go to and search for their names.