Tracking history for diabetes research

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Alan Faulkner and Lisa Manera plan to tackle the Kokoda Track in April.
Camera IconAlan Faulkner and Lisa Manera plan to tackle the Kokoda Track in April. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Two locals will retrace the steps of Australian soldiers during World War II along the Kokoda Track to raise money for juvenile diabetes research.

Lisa Manera and Alan Faulkner will set out on the nine-day, 96km walk in Papua New Guinea in April before attending an Anzac Day dawn service facing the furthest advance point the Japanese army reached in its assault.

The Albany duo are part of a team of 20 people from around Australia tackling the track to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The cause is close to Mrs Manera’s heart, as her son Josh was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2017 just after he turned nine.

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The incurable autoimmune disease affects more than 120,000 Australians, with up to 2400 diagnosed every year.

She said her son’s diagnosis came out of nowhere.

“Living with T1D involves injecting insulin multiple times a day via needle or a pump worn on the body and checking blood glucose levels several times a day by finger pricks or insertion of a sensor,” she said.

“Fortunately Josh was diagnosed early before he became critically unwell as many kids do.

“He was flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to PMH and spent over a week there receiving treatment and education for this lifelong and life-threatening condition.

“Trying to keep Josh’s blood glucose levels stable is a daily challenge — constantly watching what and when he eats,” she said.

“He often has dangerous lows and highs which can make him feel unwell and unable to concentrate.”

JDRF regularly hosts fundraisers, but she said this one was special.

“The Kokoda campaign was such a significant, incredible and inspirational achievement by a small group of young 18 militia troops who had very little training against the highly trained Japanese army,” she said.

“Retracing their steps and learning more about our history will be very moving.”

The trekkers will host a fundraising concert at the Porongorup Hall on March 7 featuring The Albany Shantymen, The Shantilillies and bush poetry.

They will also host a bush walk along the Mt Clarence and Mt Adelaide trails finishing with a barbecue at the Forts on March 29. To donate, search Everyday Hero Australia: JDRF Kokoda Trek 2020.

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