Trek to raise stroke appeal awareness

Stroke survivor Maria Fredatovich has been training for several months for her Gillespie Pass...
Stroke survivor Maria Fredatovich has been training for several months for her Gillespie Pass challenge. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Wanaka woman Maria Fredatovich knows walking the 58km Gillespie Pass circuit near Makarora is an ambitious challenge for someone who has never tramped before, but she is no stranger to overcoming challenges.

Determined to not let any lingering physical impairments hold her back after surviving a stroke at the age of 13, Ms Fredatovich (30) sets off as part of a team on the three to four-day tramp tomorrow, to raise awareness of the Young Stroke Survivors New Zealand Fundraising Appeal, which she launched last year.

Among other things, the stroke left her with no right-side peripheral vision, meaning she cannot drive, and her lack of balance will be the greatest hindrance on her trip.

She will have the support of four capable trampers though - writer Miek Deuninck, photographer-videographer Ross Mackay, Department of Conservation ranger Simon Mazotti and GP Andrew McLeod.

After reading about Dr McLeod's double-distance Challenge Wanaka triathlon accomplishment in February, Ms Fredatovich decided to do all she could to get him to take part in her own challenge.

''I thought, 'That sounds like the sort of guy I need','' she said.

''I sort of sprung it on him during an [doctor's] appointment, when I was going through some of the medication I might need. He rang me back the next day and said, 'Yep. Count me in'.''

Completely new to tramping, Ms Fredatovich has been training for several months over a series of lengthy day walks, including the Rob Roy and Mt Roy tracks. Most recently, she completed the 15km Motatapu Miners Trail near Arrowtown, last weekend. Tomorrow's trek would be a huge step up, she said.

''Gillespie just sounded like a real, real challenge, and that's what I wanted.''

The first recipient of the fund - which has reached nearly $3000 - will be Auckland girl McKenzie Kerr-Bell, who suffered a stroke last April at the age of 12. She will receive a skiing holiday to Wanaka later this year, while remaining funds will go towards adaptive snow sports.

Add a Comment