Sarah Sandilant of Leura to walk in Sydney Coastrek

Ready for a long walk: Sarah Sandilant, Lib McFeeters and Libby Sandilant training  for a Fred Hollows Foundation charity walk  which raises funds to restore sight to the needy.
Ready for a long walk: Sarah Sandilant, Lib McFeeters and Libby Sandilant training for a Fred Hollows Foundation charity walk which raises funds to restore sight to the needy.

 A Leura business owner has sets her sights on ending avoidable blindness by signing up for a coast walk this month.

Whisk and Pin owner Sarah Sandilant, 51, is among nearly 3,000 trekkers set to walk in the tenth annual Wild Women On Top Sydney Coastrek, on Friday March 16, to raise funds for The Fred Hollows Foundation.

“It’s a fantastic charity that he [Fred Hollows] has set up,” she said.

“For such a small amount of money what it can provide.

“I just thought it [this event] was a good way to raise money and a great morning out.”

Mrs Sandilant has signed up with her Sydney-based mother-in-law Lesley [Sandilant]. The pair “semi regularly” do charity events, which started 20 years ago when they both competed in the City to Surf. 

Two friends – one from Orange and another from Newcastle – will join the pair on the walk to make up the Awesome Foursome team. 

And they’ve already surpassed their compulsory $2000 entrance fee, turning Lesley’s regular Christmas Carols get together night for 80 people last year into an event fundraiser where they auctioned off prizes of weekends away and hampers that had been donated by friends.

“Even raising the money has been a lot of fun,” Mrs Sandilant said.

Mrs Sandilant will walk from Kirribilli to Bondi Beach – a distance of 30 kms. Other entrants will walk double that length from Manly to Bondi.

“There are stations along the way and you can stop and have a massage, so I don’t know how fast we will be going,” she added laughing.

Three in the group met up last Sunday in the Mountains to walk the Prince Henry cliff trail. She said everyone was ready for the challenge, even though they had not managed to train all together.

“I walk for four or five k’s several times a week and ride my bike, Jo [from Newcastle] runs 10ks every day, Libby [from Orange] and I have done a few walks together and my mother-in-law is 71 but she’s mega fit, she plays squash, walks every day, does pilates.”

Since 2009, more than 25,000 Coastrekkers have walked 1.2 million kilometres across the three Coastrek events, in Sydney (since 2009), Melbourne (since 2015) and the Sunshine Coast (since 2017).

A Fred Hollows spokeswoman, Megan Reynolds, called it “the equivalent of walking to the moon and back, and back to the moon again”.

“Their efforts have also raised more than $20 million for The Fred Hollows Foundation, helping restore sight for hundreds of thousands of people living in the world’s poorest communities,” Ms Reynolds said. The event’s overall goal is of raising $2.8 million.

Founding director of The Fred Hollows Foundation, Gabi Hollows, said there were more than 36 million people in the world “who are blind, and four out of five of them don’t need to be”.

“I am always moved and inspired to see people still going to such great lengths to help realise Fred’s vision of a world where no person is needlessly blind.”

Founder and CEO of Wild Women on Top Coastrek, Di Westaway, said by taking part in Coastrek “women are restoring sight to other women, which helps them to return to work so they can provide for themselves and their families, and also helps girls to return to school and continue their education”.

To support the ‘Awesome Foursome’, go to sydney.coastrek.com.au and search for their name.