Jenni Steps Up with Shake It Up for the Great Ocean Walk Trek
Tuesday, 26th March 2024

This September, a group of trekkers will Step Up with Shake It Up to trek the Great Ocean Walk for Parkinson’s. Taking part along with ‘Team Tamworth’ is Jenni Fergus, a long-time Shake It Up supporter who was looking for a challenge to mark 10 years since her Parkinson’s diagnosis. Jenni also took part in the 2018 Camino for a Cure trek, raising over $20,000 in the process!

We spoke with Jenni all about the upcoming trek, her approach to fundraising and how she is making a difference for the Parkinson’s community.

What inspired you to take part in the upcoming Great Ocean Walk trek with Shake It Up?

I was inspired to take part in the upcoming Great Ocean Walk as I’d been looking for a challenge. I like to feel the satisfaction of doing something a ‘bit out there’ to push myself beyond my day to day routines. When I got the email announcing the Great Ocean Walk I realised I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel –  Shake It Up has delivered once again!

What sort of training or preparation are you doing for the trek?

Training will really be a matter of stepping up to longer walks. I walk every weekday mornings with my neighbour and although it’ s only a little over 3.5kms there are some mean little rises that test you.  Of course I’ll continue with my normal Parkinson’s exercises. I will factor in more successive longer distance walks to build my stamina and vary the type of terrain to give a more realistic sense of what is to come. While I’ve done bush walks I’ve never really walked on sand before and I’ve been told it’s quite strenuous – a new experience – Yes!

What are you most looking forward to about the trek?

I’m most looking forward to pretty much everything!  I’m sure the scenery will be amazing and my iPhone camera will get a workout.

How did you first become involved in fundraising for the Shake It Up Australia Foundation?

2018 proved a pivotal time in my Parkinson’s journey when a Shake It Up newsletter was
forwarded to my email address. One man’s inspiring mission to find a cure for PD, partnering with the Michael J Fox Foundation and inviting us all to donate so that Australian researchers can keep working on their way to finding a cure.

That newsletter also advertised the 2018 fundraiser – Camino for a Cure. Simply register and embark on a dual challenge. To raise the $4,000 for research, then walk the last 100km of the Camino pilgrimage in Spain. That was a carrot we couldn’t resist, though it was daunting at the time. My sister Eileen, David and I began our fundraising events and friends told friends and even during the worst drought on record people opened their wallets. The generosity of the community was overwhelming and we raised over $17K by the specified timeframe and then pipped $20K after a few photo evenings sharing our tales from on the trail. That was the beginning of my mission to jump at any opportunity to raise awareness for Shake It Up.

How have you continued to raise funds and awareness for research since then?

In 2019 our Tuesday morning Tea group was registered as Sippers & Stirrers and evolved to raise funds for SIU. I made an empty vegemite jar available and from the small change in their pockets over $8K has been donated to SIU and monthly deposits continue to be banked.

I honestly believe that ‘from little things big things grow’!

If you could describe your previous Camino for a Cure trek experience in three words, what would they be?

Unforgettable –  Achievable – Conquered

You can hear Jenni’s interview with Amy Ruffle on The Shake It Up Show here, to learn more about the upcoming trek and Jenni’s Parkinson’s journey.

Want to join Team Tamworth and participate in the upcoming trek? There are still a few spots remaining!

You can find out more, register your interest or get a free info pack here.