Sisters Helen Clarke and Leone Wittmack
Media Release: 19 April 2009
Led by two Sisters of Charity, The Nuns’ Run will cover the 400 km distance from Dubbo to Darlinghurst in an effort to raise cancer awareness and crucial funds for the establishment of a new $100 million Cancer Centre within the St Vincent’s Research Precinct, Sydney. Embarking on their journey on 24 May, Sisters Helen Clarke and Leone Wittmack are hoping to arrive in Sydney on 5 June.
"The Nuns’ Run" stems from our desire to support those living with cancer while helping to create a new facility which will make a real difference for those affected by cancer and future generations," said Sisters Helen and Leone.
Over 13 days and visiting seven towns, the Sisters invite participation in community activities along the route to Sydney. Activities include a fun run/walk in Dubbo (24 May) and Sydney (5 June). To register and raise money with support from family and friends, sponsor a participant or one of the Sisters visit www.nunsrun.org.au.
"Reaching out to regional communities is a vital part of the Sisters’ mission, and this has been an integral part of the Cancer Centre’s vision. The Nuns’ Run will give us an opportunity to engage with these communities, and build awareness of the Centre and the access it will offer regional and rural centres to innovations in cancer research and care through dedicated tele-health facilities," said Sister Helen.
The Garvan St Vincent’s Campus Cancer Centre (GSVCCC) will combine St Vincents’ best practice cancer care and Garvan’s internationally renowned cancer research. Clinicians and researchers will work side-by-side enabling research findings to move quickly into patient care for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of individual cancer patients, with the ultimate goal of improving cancer outcomes for all Australians.
The Nuns’ Run will kick off at the Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Sunday 24 May. The Sisters will then travel through Molong, Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow and Katoomba, finishing in Sydney on Friday 5 June with a fun run/walk in Centennial Park.
One in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer. These statistics are particularly close to Sister Helen’s heart, who has lost both parents to cancer as well as many friends and fellow Sisters of Charity. For Sister Leone, having worked as a nurse since 1965 and as a past Director of Nursing at the Sacred Heart Hospice, she has been touched by the illness not only personally, but through her ministry.
The Sisters of Charity established St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney in 1857 and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research on the same campus in 1963. The Sisters have a long tradition of walking to help those in need, and were known as ‘The Walking Nuns’. Founded in 1815 in Ireland by Mary Aikenhead, they were the first order to leave the convent and conduct their ministry among the people, often involving exhaustive treks to reach out to those in need. Their outreach stretched to the fledgling colony in Australia. Five Sisters, the first nuns in Australia, migrated to Sydney in 1838 with a mission to help the poor and disadvantaged.