Covid-struck charity walker raises $23K for Ukraine

Invercargill man Ben Lewis was unable to complete his journey but he was happy with the...
Invercargill man Ben Lewis was unable to complete his journey but he was happy with the achievement. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The journey of a man who had aimed to walk all five of Southland’s Great Walks in eight days was interrupted by Covid-19.

Great South business services general manager Ben Lewis was planning to walk the Rakiura Track, the Hump Ridge, Kepler, Milford and Routeburn tracks to raise money for humanitarian aid organisation Razom in Ukraine.

He had the idea after feeling powerless seeing news reports of the conflict in Ukraine.

Mr Lewis started his trip on April 18 at Stewart Island’s track and continued on his route through Hump Ridge track and then on to the Kepler Track.

When he was about half of the way, on his fifth day, he developed a dry cough and decided to test for Covid-19.

"Unfortunately I tested positive for Covid and have had to abandon my walk."

Mr Lewis had to isolate near Iris Burn Hut for the night and returned home the next morning.

"It was actually pretty hard walking out. I had to walk 22km and I was feeling pretty shaky.

"That should be one of the easiest days because it was a relative flat part of the track but it was a bit of hard work."

However, his good effort was not in vain — he was able to raise $23,000.

The amount was more than double his goal of $10,000.

"It has exceeded all my expectations. While I didn’t finish the walk, it was very successful for me because raising funds for Ukraine was what it was all about.

"People have been amazing with their contributions and support."

Mr Lewis now was planning to complete his journey in spring.

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