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Tatura’s Dani McLaren prepares for Bravehearts’ 777 Marathon

By Laura Briggs

Seven is the number on Tatura’s Dani McLaren’s mind as she prepares for seven days of marathons across seven days in seven states.

Despite her full-time teaching role and her duties as a single mum, combined with the general busyness of life, Ms McLaren is somehow finding the time to train and fundraise ahead of the 777 Marathon challenge — an initiative of Bravehearts.

Bravehearts is an organisation that aims to educate, empower and protect children to prevent them from becoming victims of sexual assault.

The 777 Marathon was started by Bravehearts in 2013 as a fresh way of seeing funds raised to protect Australian children.

Ms McLaren said although it was a big commitment involving lots of time and effort, the outcome was rewarding.

As part of committing to the 777 Marathon, Ms McLaren is required to organise and host different events in her local area throughout the year in order to raise $10000 for Bravehearts.

This fundraising takes place over a 12-month period.

Once fundraising is complete, Ms McLaren along with about 20 other participants from across the country will fly to Perth to kick off their seven days of seven marathons.

‘‘So it’s 295km of running and 15000km of travel over the course of the week,’’ she said.

But this is not the first time the Tatura resident has taken up the challenge — Ms McLaren will be completing the seven marathons for her fifth consecutive year.

‘‘I find it really hard to stop when I see the benefits of doing it — especially when you get young and survivors of child sexual assault come up to you saying because of you I’m here today,’’ Ms McLaren said.

Ms McLaren said it was the stories and conversations she had along the way that inspired her to keep going.

‘‘I had one 16-year-old girl who hadn’t left the house for about three months and she came out in Adelaide to support us,’’ Ms McLaren said.

‘‘She said ‘thank you, you’ve literally saved my life because I’ve seen what you’re doing and with strength I can keep going’.

‘‘When I hear stories like that it’s all worth it.

‘‘I say even if I save one person’s life then I’ve made a huge difference.’’

With this year’s event quickly approaching, Ms McLaren said she was in the process of planning a colour run to be held in May.

She said having run multiple colour runs in Melbourne where she had previously lived, she found them to be a successful way of raising the funds.

‘‘It’s getting difficult each year to come up with the funds,’’ she said.

‘‘But the colour runs are always popular because they cater for people of all ages.’’

Having raised more than $50000 throughout her four years of involvement, Ms McLaren said although the fundraising was even more challenging than the marathons themselves, she was privileged to be helping out such a worthy cause.

‘‘The statistics are one in five children will be sexually assaulted before they’re 18,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s such an important issue.’’

Ms McLaren said by doing what she was doing, she had not only been able to raise funds for Bravehearts but had been able to raise awareness around the country.

Ready to tackle this year’s marathons beginning July 1, Ms McLaren said she intended to complete the 777 Marathon challenge seven times.

From there she hoped her nine-year-old daughter Lily might be ready to take over from her.

‘‘Lily’s just as passionate,’’ she said.

Ms McLaren said she would keep those of the Goulburn Valley informed of the upcoming colour run and encouraged people to get on board in supporting Bravehearts and their vision.

■If you wish to support Ms McLaren on her fundraising journey, go to www.bravehearts.org.au