Bionic Woman Taking On Wellington's Marathon
Monday, 12 June 2017, 11:49 AM
Helene Kay jokes she’s kind of like a ‘Bionic Woman’. She’s in part made of titanium. But that won’t stop her from entering the Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon event on June 18 and fundraising for the New Zealand Heart Foundation.
The Kapiti Coast mum suffered from rheumatic heart disease a year ago. She was so overwhelmed by the care and help she received from the New Zealand Heart Foundation that she wants to “give back” now that she is well. She is raising money for the foundation by walking the 21km distance at the Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon event and has so far raised over $2500.
Helene says her world was turned upside down last year. She had been feeling unwell and just generally fatigued, but doctors couldn’t pinpoint why. Finally she had an echocardiogram and doctors discovered rheumatic heart disease.
The ailment was traced back to an undiagnosed bout of rheumatic fever when she was very young. Decades later two heart valves were failing and she needed open heart surgery to install mechanical valves. Hence the bionic woman tag after the 1980s television series of the same name.
If you stand close, Helene says you’ll hear her mechanical parts ticking away merrily. Her first grandchild is due in June and she jokes, “I’ll be the ticking nana”.
Since her health issue, the 59-year-old has been slowly rebuilding her strength and fitness and says a post-surgery eight-week exercise course run by the Heart Foundation was integral to her great recovery. She recently returned to work too, teaching exercise classes.
Helene also attributes the support of her husband Paul, and other family and friends, for helping her on her heart journey. She particularly credits friend Lyn for inspiring her to walk most days to help her on her journey back to wellness.
Wanting to capitalise on her great recovery, Helene has set herself the goal of training for half marathon walk in next weekend’s Gazley Volkswagen Marathon event. Her goal, she says, “Is simply to finish,” and she’s ecstatic that one of her two sons, Devon, will join her on this mission.
Part of the mission is fundraising for the Heart Foundation and raising heart health awareness, stressing that people should seek help and get thorough check-ups when they are feeling unwell.
The Heart Foundation has been the official charity of the Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon for more than 10 years and annually raises more than $10,000 through the event. For the 2017 event on June 18, Helene has raised more than any other individual thus far. An accomplishment she credits to some wonderfully generous friends.
Helene is looking forward to reaching the finish-line at Wellington’s famous Westpac Stadium, saying, “It will feel like the end of my rehabilitation and the beginning of a new me”.
The 2017 Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon is scheduled for Sunday 18 June. Entries are still open. For more information, visit: www.wellingtonmarathon.kiwi