‘Hi, my name is Renee Kennedy and I have recently conquered The Kokoda Trail.

‘Why would a mother of two and physically unfit choose to walk The Kokoda Trail? Well, it all began on 31st August 2005 when my daughter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at the age of 17 months old. I was devastated, I blamed myself as I suffered with depression throughout my pregnancy and after she was born my depression didn’t improve.

I honestly feel now that there is always a positive in a negative situation and my daughter and I now have a bond that we never had before. This feeling of always looking on the bright side and finding a positive was reinforced in me when I was walking The Kokoda Trail.

I decided to fundraise for The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, as they are helping save my daughter’s life, but I didn’t know how or where or when. Shortly after being discharged from hospital, I was watching Getaway, they were doing a story on The Kokoda Trail by the end of it I knew how I was going to fundraise!

‘On the 7th August 2006 I flew out to Port Moresby and the next day I was on a bus to Ower’s Corner and my adventure was about to begin. I was very nervous because I suddenly thought I wasn’t fit enough, what if my children needed me, what if Hannah relapses, there were a lot of what if’s running around my head. I wasn’t going quit before I even started and the children worldwide needed me to finish, as all the money I was raising was going to the Medical and Research Centre at Westmead.

I proudly can say that I finished the track but it wasn’t without many a tear shed and with the support of my trekking group, my fabulous trek leader John Nalder and my personal carrier, Joseph, who all had kind words of encouragement or just walking with me.

The Kokoda Trail has a magic of its own to share with you. The history of it is amazing, sad, and happy all the emotions rolled in together. The track is also very beautiful in many ways, the people who live along it so full of love, the incredible wildlife (especially the butterflies), and the fauna. We take so much for granted and we don’t appreciate what and who are in our lives.

The Kokoda Trail means so much to me, it pushed my comfort zone boundaries further each day and I know that I am strong enough physically and mentally to survive what life throws at me.

I could write so much but yet it is so hard to find the words to express how the track has had such an impact on my life, it is an experience that I will cherish dearly. But if I didn’t have the support from family, friends, Charlie Lynn, John Nalder and my fellow trekkers it would not have happened and I am very grateful to all.

I hope my story reinforces to everybody what Kokoda means to them and we tell all our friends about our brave soldiers and fuzzy wuzzy angels who gave up their lives so we can enjoy what we have now.
‘Thank you for reading.