SHARE

They made it!

Hannah Hutcheson, her sister Chelsey Johnston, and their husbands, Matt Hutcheson and Aaron Johnston, climbed Puketapu hill to the Sir John McKenzie monument above Palmerston every day in October to raise funds for and awareness of cystic fibrosis.

The Palmerston awesome foursome took on the project, called “31 Climbs in 31 Days”, at Mrs Johnston’s suggestion.

The Hutchesons’ 10-year-old daughter, Sophie, has cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition primarily affecting the lungs and digestive system.

People with cystic fibrosis need plenty of exercise to slow the decline in lung function, clear mucus from their lungs to make breathing easier, and allow faster recovery from illness.

Sophie must eat a diet high in calories and salt, take at least 20 pills a day, use a nebuliser twice a day, attend three-monthly outpatient appointments for lung-function tests, and have yearly blood tests, chest X-ray, abdomen ultrasound, and a bone scan.

The Hutchesons encouraged Sophie to participate in as many sports and physical activities as was possible for her to manage.

Cystic fibrosis did not stop her from doing anything, Mrs Hutcheson said.

She made the climb eight times during October, along with fellow pupils from Waikouaiti School.

“She’s very fit,” Mrs Hutcheson said.

“Heaps” of other people joined the family – 393 different people made a total of 794 trips up the hill in the 31 days.

The funds they have raised so far totalled $12,763. It was being donated to Breath4CF Otago, which gives out funding grants to promote lung health in people with cystic fibrosis.

The grants were typically used to buy sports equipment or shoes, pay for sports club memberships, swimming lessons, trampolines, or scooters.

Mrs Hutcheson said the fundraising goal was $400. The project’s success would keep Breath4CF going for about four years.

“We were blown away.”

Sophie was excited with how well it went, and was now off on a school trip to Aoraki Mt Cook, her mother said.

There had not been any injuries during the climbs, although there were plenty of sore muscles.

“It was good. It was not as hard as I expected it to be.”

They went up a steep pathway on the ascent and took a gentler way down, Mrs Hutcheson said.

The family was impressed by the support from local businesses, especially Oceana Gold. Its emergency services team walked up the hill in its breathing apparatus and again when Sophie’s school made the climb.

The company also provided the bus for the school trip, a picnic table, and scratchie cards to raise extra funds.

A Facebook page shows daily photos of the climbs and a Givealittle page is still open for donations.