Zimbabwe-born Ionna Vlachos is embarking on an epic fundraising adventure by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in February. The challenge is on behalf of Cure Cancer Australia, an organisation that is dedicated to funding outstanding young researchers as they break new ground towards a cure for cancer. The 12 day adventure will see Ionna trekking through some of the world's most diverse landscapes, camping under the stars, passing through glaciers and ice cliffs and pushing to the summit of the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
Ionna, who finished school in Cape Town, and moved to Australia six years ago when she came to study at university in Brisbane, answered some questions for SAbona.
Why do you want to do this challenge?
The reason I have chosen to undertake this challenge is to make a personal contribution towards finding a cure for a devastating disease that everyone has been affected by in one way or another. I also think it will be a great opportunity to challenge myself, both mentally and physically, by reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
How did you hear about the experience, and make the decision to do it?
I picked up a brochure about the experience when I was leaving gym one morning. After reading it and doing a bit more research on the internet I was keen to learn more. So I rung up the company involved with organising it and by the end of the conversation I was sold! I've always wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and I thought what better way to tick something off my ‘bucket list' than to do it whilst raising money for a very worthy cause.
What are you doing to get yourself prepared?
My personal trainer has prepared a very comprehensive training program for me that sees me working out in the gym four to five times a week and then going for long walks and climbs on the weekend. I am planning on being over-prepared physically so that when I begin my climb I can focus all my efforts and energy on the mental aspect of it.
Tell us a little about yourself.
After graduating from high school, I decided to go to university in a country that I had never visited before. So in 2004 I landed on Australian soil, by myself, to complete a Bachelor of Commerce at Griffith University. I then went on to do a Master of Marketing, from which I graduated in 2007. I have been working full-time since then and in that time I have been lucky enough to have my two sisters move over to Australia to study as well. My parents have recently moved back to Zimbabwe from Cape Town and have a few trips planned to come out and visit us which I am looking forward to! Outdoor activities that I enjoy include swimming and running. I signed up to do the Bridge to Brisbane and I am hoping to complete a half marathon sometime between now and the end of the year. I believe these events will be good mental preparation for me and will contribute to my overall fitness goal.
Regarding the fundraising, how much of it goes to Cure Cancer Australia?
My fundraising target has been set at $8,500. This will cover both the fundraising and travel components of the challenge. A minimum of $3,500 will go towards Cure Cancer Australia. I am hoping to exceed my target and therefore raise more than $3,500 for this worthy cause.
You mentioned that you've involved with a team in this challenge? Tell us about that.
There are currently 10 people signed up to take part in this challenge. I do not know any of them as I am the only person in Queensland to have signed up so far. Up to 16 people can participate in the challenge.
You can receive information about Ionna's challenge and fundraising events that she's holding through her Facebook group page http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=101225349924368&ref=ts and make donations on her online fundraising page http://climbforacure.gofundraise.com.au/IoannaVlachos