Gemma Browne first took part in Wellington Round the Bays as a kid, but this year she’ll be participating for an extra special cause.
As well as supporting the principal charity, Mental Health Foundation NZ, participants in the 2021 Brendan Foot Supersite Round the Bays can also choose to support one of five affiliated charity partners; Conservation Volunteers NZ, Cancer Society NZ, Special Olympics NZ, Wellington City Mission and Stroke Foundation NZ.
“My sister has worked as a Stroke Nurse Specialist for years, then a couple of years ago my Dad had a stroke,” Browne said. “We're lucky that he has made a great recovery, but stroke is definitely a cause that is very close to home.”
Event organiser’s Sport Wellington recently announced that this iconic Wellington event is scheduled for February 21 2021, and that this year, there’s more opportunity than ever before for participants to raise awareness and funds by representing their selected charity's team.
“When my sister suggested we join the Stroke Foundation team for Wellington Round the Bays it made perfect sense to me,” Browne said. “I was blown away by how generous people were towards my 2020 fundraising efforts. I want to try and at least match that again, and I'd also like to try and run at least some of the course, if not all, in 2021.”
Stroke Foundation NZ help support and assist individuals and their families after a stroke. They deliver awareness campaigns and health promotion programmes to educate people about the risk of strokes and protect those at risk.
“We’re really excited to have five affiliated charities on board this year,” said John Grieve, Sport Wellington Events Director. “It gives our participants the opportunity to represent a cause that they are passionate about and to raise more funds for a variety of charities in our communities.”
For Natalie Wilson, Course Coordinator for Outward Bound, it’s the opportunity to support Special Olympics NZ that has her ready to sign up for the 2021 event.
“My workplace encourages inclusivity and treating everybody equally. With family members on the ASD spectrum, I know how important it is to be patient and understand that everyone works differently, and that's ok,” Wilson said. “I want others to learn to be more understanding with those who may have an intellectual or developmental disability. The best way to do this is to raise awareness and celebrate our uniqueness.”
Special Olympics NZ supports the sport journey of individuals with an intellectual disability. They provide a safe space for those affected to participate, make new connections, and have a sense of belonging. Special Olympics NZ was an affiliated charities for the 2020 event and Sport Wellington are pleased to be supporting the charity again this year.
“Trialling three affiliated charities in 2020 provided different opportunities for participants to run for a cause and we wanted to increase this positive experience for our 2021 participants,” Grieve said. “We were impressed with the quality of applicants and are excited to continue this initiative in future years for other charities to be involved. By increasing our number of affiliated charities, we are able to provide more opportunities for the public to get active and give back to the community at the same time.”
The 2020 event also saw the introduction of Sport Wellington’s waste minimisation policy, with the goal of Wellington Round the Bays becoming a waste-free event by 2025. Over 14,000 plastic bottles were replaced by reusable cups, reducing carbon emissions by 72% and diverting 756kg of waste from landfill. These efforts have seen the event named as a finalist for the Wellington Gold Awards and NZ Beautiful Awards.
“We're proud to have organised one of the largest events of its kind to use reusable cups and I’m looking forward to increasing our positive impact on the environment by working with Conservation Volunteers NZ as one of our 2021 affiliated charities,” Grieve said.
Conservation Volunteers NZ works to improve the health of the environment and restore New Zealand’s nature by planting and caring for native trees, protecting native species, and eradicating pests and weeds.
Wilson, who completed the ½ marathon for the first time at the 2020 event, is looking to not only beat her time in 2021, but to raise more money than ever before; and wants you to get involved.
“It’s so rewarding,” Wilson said. “You get to meet those that you are working with at the end of the race, there’s nothing better than giving back and helping others. Ask your family and friends to donate instead of a Christmas or birthday present, get your colleagues behind you and start raising awareness for the awesome charities and work that they do.”
Wellington City Mission provides holistic support to anyone in need in our capital city. They support people, families, and children in need through food parcels, transitional housing, social work support, and advocacy.
Cancer Society NZ aims to reduce the impact of cancer on individuals and the community. They conduct and fund research, support people throughout their cancer journey and advocate to ensure the support from the government.
“It’s great to have both national and local charities involved for the 2021 event, representing a range of worthy causes,” Grieve said. “Participants can connect with a cause close to their hearts.”
To find out more about the charities and how you can support them, go to www.wellingtonroundthebays.co.nz. Registrations for the 2021 event open on Thursday 5 November.