The Sanfilippo 1000 and Surf Coast Century - Big Feet for Little Feet

Friday, September 2, 2016

Last year a highly motivated team of 7 runners (all Westpac employees) relayed from Melbourne to Sydney and brought home with them a staggering $166,000 - vital research funds - for the Sanfilippo Children's Foundation. The Sanfilippo 1000 - Big Feet for Little Feet was kick-started by key supporter of the Sanfilippo Children's Foundation, John Burgman.

Sanfilippo 1000 team members

John is a long-term member of the Westpac team (27+ years) and his current role is Head of Retail Decisioning and Transformation, Credit Risk. The Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation was selected as the charity of choice due to the local community connection with a family whose children have the condition.

Sanfilippo is a rare and fatal condition. Affected children have a life expectancy of just 12-20 years and there is currently no effective treatment or cure. But there is hope and supporters can help make it a reality. The Sanfilippo Children's Foundation mission is progressing research for a cure for Sanfilippo Syndrome.

The team ran in a relay format from Melbourne via Seymour-Benalla-Wodonga-Holbrook-Wagga Wagga-Cootamundra-Yass-Goulburn- Moss Vale-Kangaroo Valley and Bulli to Sydney. The inaugural event really captured the imaginations of the Sanfilippo and wider communities and achieved widespread media coverage within the rural and regional communities visited, on mainstream and across social media.

Last year helped put the Sanfilippo Children's Foundation on the map, as the runners received significant media coverage within the communities they visited en route including 11 print media articles, 6 radio interviews and 2 regional TV news stories.

The wider Sanfilippo community really enjoyed following the progress of the SF1000 - Big Feet for Little Feet team as they journeyed from Melbourne to Sydney. During the 2015 event, the campaign reached over 10,000 people via our various social media platforms.

Check out the WIN TV news story here and the Westpac video from last year's event here.

The 2016 Sanfilippo 1000 - Big Feet for Little Feet promises to be just as exciting.
At the heart of the campaign are two key events taking place on the weekend of September 3rd and 4th 2016, a 100km trail running event (The Surf Coast Century) and a 171 km cycle.

The 171-km cycle event from Anglesea to Port Campbell along the Great Ocean Road consists of teams of 4 riders who will collectively cover 1000km.
“We're delighted to have teamed up with Rapid Ascent and will be providing just under 60 competitors for the Surf Coast Century. The idea was to contribute 10 teams to collectively cover the 1000kms, however we have gained many more recruits. The majority of the Sanfilippo 1000 competitors will be completing the trail run in teams of four, although we do have one member doing two legs and another doing the full 100km,” said Ingrid Maack, of the Sanfilipo Foundation.

“This year John has assembled 10 team captains from Westpac and beyond. Five of the original Sanfilippo 1000 are doing it again! Our fundraising target is $150,000.

Q) What is the range of people getting involved? Are they eager runners, or new to events?
Our competitors come from all walks of life. Some are Westpac employees who were inspired by last year's event, others are passionate friends of the Donnell family who just want to help raise research funds and help make a difference to the lives of children battling Sanfilippo. Many are beginner runners and others are seasoned athletes. One team member Stuart Caveney (a SF1000 2015 original team member) will not only be running the entire 100km trail run but will also compete in the cycle event the following day. We also have an 83 year old, who will be running as part of the team in the Surf Coast Century.

Q) How has training been going so far?
In general training has been going well, although not without the expected scrapes and injuries. We have great camaraderie and support for each other. The team has a FB group set up to share progress and tales of their training and there is a group of about 10 who train under the guidance of endurance coach, Gary Mullins, doing hills and sprints each Wednesday night and a long run every second Sunday.

Q) What are you looking forward to about getting down to the Great Ocean Road, onto the beach and onto the trails to be part of the Surf Coast Century?
Across the teams the most common comment we hear is "I love being out on the trail, fresh air and nature!" I think that is definitely a big appeal to everyone and we couldn't pick a more scenic place! But we are also really looking forward to getting the whole team together as we are somewhat geographically dispersed this will be the first time many of us will meet and the celebration at the end promises to be a good one!

Allan Donnell is the father of Isla (7) and Jude (5) Donnell, two children battling the fatal condition Sanfilippo Syndrome. Allan's wife Megan Donnell is the Founder and Director of the Sanfilippo Children's Foundation.

Allan Donnell - Sanfilippo Children's Foundation

How did the idea of joining the SCF fundraiser came about?
Both my children Isla (7) and Jude (5) have Sanfilippo Syndrome, which is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. My wife Megan is the founder and director of the Sanfilippo Children's Foundation, which is raising money to fund medical research so a cure can be found hopefully in time for Isla and Jude. If not, this work will benefit the next generation of kids with this dreadful disease. It will be Isla and Jude's legacy.

When Isla and Jude were first diagnosed I thought I would never smile again, but the way our friends, family and complete strangers have rallied around us and helped us to raise funds has made me smile. Seeing my buddy John Burgman and his workmates run from Melbourne to Sydney last year also made me smile, so of course I jumped at the chance to get involved this year. My wife and I are both running in this event, but in separate teams!

Allan Donnell and his family

What sort of runner would you regard yourself and have you been involved in many sporting events so far?
I've always been a runner but have never run further than 14kms. I'm not used to running such long distances so the trail will be a challenge for me. I ran my first City2Surf when I was 12 years old, back when there were only 20,000 entrants... that's how old I am! I also regularly run in local fun run events on Sydney's Northern Beaches such as the Pub2Pub and annual Sun Run. Trail running is new to me but obviously having two terminally-ill children means I am highly motivated.

In what way are you drawn to assisting the SCF with its mission?
I'm a dad with two terminally-ill kids and would do anything to help raise awareness of the disease that will one day steal my kids from me. We are on the brink of bringing a clinical trial to Australia which could help improve Isla and Jude's quality of life and keep them with us longer than their current life expectancy. It's experimental so we don't know if it will work but we're giving it our all. Australian children will participate in a trial, thanks to the work of the Sanfilippo Children's Foundation, and I am really proud of that!

Other than raising funds, why else do you want to do this run?
I'm enjoying the team spirit, and I'm running with some great mates. Robbie Perrillo I have known since my school days. He was in the year above me at school and we began playing soccer together about 17 years ago. I have played soccer with John Phillips at Manlyvale Football Club for 15 years. John and his wife Abby have been amazing supporters of the Foundation. John or 'JB', as we like to call him, started last year's Sanfilippo 1000 which raised $166,000 for the Sanfilippo Children's Foundation.

How has training been going so far?
I have had a slight setback - I did my hamstring playing soccer recently but it's on the mend and I will definitely still compete. Before my injury I was running on a Wednesday with the rest of the crew and doing a long run every Sunday. We recently got a new therapy dog (a black Labrador) for the kids called Remy, so I've been taking him for the occasional run too. We are lucky we live near the beach and there are lots of nice parks and places nearby to train.

What are you most looking forward to about running along the Great Ocean Road in the Surf Coast Century?
With two special needs kids, we don't get away that much so believe it or not this is something of a holiday for us. I'm also looking forward to being part of a team. Being surrounded by such good friends is really uplifting and running makes everyone feel good. Just ask any runner!

John Burgman is the brains behind the Sanfilippo 1000 - Big Feet for Little Feet. Last year John and six fellow Westpac employees ran from Melbourne to Sydney, a journey of 1000kms.

How did the idea of joining the SCF fundraiser came about?
I was part of the original Sanfilippo 1000 event last year where 7 of us ran from Melbourne to Sydney in a relay event. The idea this year was to pick a great event and get more people involved to run the 1000km’s – that’s how the Surf Coast Century and the Sanfilippo 1000 came together.

What sort of runner would you regard yourself and have you been involved in many sporting events so far?
I am a below average runner who likes running for fitness and a great cause. I have done a few half marathons as well as the Melbourne to Sydney relay run last year

John Burgman

In what way are you drawn to assisting the SCF with its mission?
I am mates with the founders Alan and Megan Donnell through the Over 35’s Manly Vale Football team. I remember vividly the day I found out both Isla and Jude had Sanfilippo Syndrome. I’ll never forget the pain I saw in my mate’s face. I had been looking for a personal physical challenge - call it a midlife crisis - and here was a great cause in desperate need of funds.

Other than raising funds, why else do you want to do this run?
This is all about putting the spotlight on Sanfilippo and raising much-needed funds. Although I do say that running is my beer correction factor i.e. it allows me a few guilt free beers without putting on the poundage!

How has training been going so far?
I have been running about 40-60kms a week with a mix of road and trail running and tapering for the event by only drinking mid strength beer for the last month

What are you most looking forward to about running along the Great Ocean Road in the Surf Coast Century?
I hear the Anglesea Hotel is fantastic for rehydration purposes.


For more information about Big Feet for Little Feet, the foundation, or to help turn hope into a reality - head to: 

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