The expression of “walking in someone’s shoes” was made real by a school Principal recently when she walked 436 kilometres to raise funds for a former student.
But for Antonella Dolores, Principal of St John’s Catholic Primary School Auburn, taking long service leave to help raise money was “an adventure”.
“If I take long service leave I want it to have some meaning… it’s more of a call to action and having purpose in life,” said Ms Dolores.
Ms Dolores was one of six people who walked from Sydney to Canberra to raise funds for Save Our Sons – a cause that is focused on curing DMD, a disease that generally afflicts boys.
Her former student, ten-year-old Emilio Eid, was diagnosed with the incurable condition DMD (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy) just before he turned two.
The Save Our Sons walkers were led by founder Elie Eid who pushed his son Emilio in a wheelchair to Parliament House Canberra and presented Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, with a Save Our Sons TShirt.
Emilio is now in Year 5 at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Belmore where Ms Dolores was former Assistant Principal.
“When I left I said to Elie ‘I’d love to volunteer at your events’,” she said.
She’s known the Eid family for seven years, been involved with Save Our Sons for four years and is now on the board.
She said when she chose to walk for the cause she didn’t have any expectations and didn’t think she’d get anything out of the walk.
But that changed when Ms Dolores said on one of the coldest days Emilio told his father he wanted to walk with him, got out of his wheelchair and walked for a short distance holding his father’s hand.
“I just bawled my eyes out – that whole 20 metres – that was just a moment in time you know that you will never forget. To see this father’s love for his son…”
“I must say it was the most rewarding amazing thing I’ve done in my lifetime.”
The team was sponsored and walked ten days for an average 30 kilometres a day. They would delay lunch until the end of the day with support cars taking them from their end points and to their start points each day.
“It was really tough until day five because it was all up hill,”
The walk raised $120,000 and has been one of its most successful campaigns.
Save Our Sons was founded in 2008 and Mr Eid and his team have already raised $3.5 million to help fund clinical trials in the UK and USA.
“It’s one of those challenges you want to take on,” said the Principal.
She said her school leadership was based on the head, heart, hand model – “it’s all about rigour, moral purpose and a call to action”.
Quoting Luke, she said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, that’s what I put in to everything I do.”
She tells her students that while they can’t “give in money” they can always “give in service”.
Ms Dolores volunteered at the “sell out” August SOS Gala and over 800 people attended the annual formal dinner at Luna Park, hosted by Sam Kekovich and with a special performance by Delta Goodrem.