Athletics event to raise money for young athlete Peta Kerr

Peta and sister Lettie in 2012.

Peta and sister Lettie in 2012.

After being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2017, 11-year-old Peta Kerr’s start to 2018 began in fighting form. 

The Bald Blair Public School student was well into her recovery from chemotherapy and surgery and regaining her fitness.

Having spent plenty of time running and taking part in gymnastics, Peta returned to sport and, under the guidance of athletics coach Jay Stone, managed to qualify for the PSSA Zone cross country. 

“It was actually around a year ago that she had been through the chemotherapy, she had recovered, the tumour had gone away and she had started back in some light training,” Stone said. 

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“It all seemed like everything was going alright, she was recovering, she ran at the Zone cross country trials and was getting stronger and fitter.”

Then in July this year, the tumours returned. 

This time in her spine. 

“I didn't hear from her mum for a little while and I wasn't 100 per cent sure, I just assumed Peta was fine,” Stone said.  

“I actually got a message from her mum while I was in Spain saying that the tumors had come back and they were in her spine and she had a big battle on her hands. 

“It wasn't until I showed up to visit her that her mum said she has currently lost the use of her legs.

“That was a pretty heartbreaking thing to learn, that a little girl who loved to run and do gymnastics, the tumours in her spine had affected her to a point where she couldn't run.”

Upon hearing of her re-diagnosis, Stone felt the need to do something to help Peta and her family. 

Stone, Armidale Athletics and the Viper Squad came up with the plan to run a fundraiser to coincide with their annual invitational 400 metre handicap event which starts their season. 

“Her mum didn't ask for help but I felt like I had to do something,” Stone said. 

“I have a daughter Peta's age and I would like to think that if anything happened to her that people would rally around me.

“With the Viper Squad, every athlete I coach gets a number and it is their unique Viper number.

“Peta was 242 so we decided to make a special 242 metre race which is something unique. 

“All the money from the entry fees will go towards Peta and the family. 

“If she needs treatment, travel for treatment, down the track if she needs equipment if she doesn't regain full use of her legs.”

The event will be next Wednesday at Harris Park from 5.15pm. 

Stone encouraged everyone to put their hand up and take part, whether it is in the 242m or in the off-the-track activities. 

“If we can just get a big crowd there and send the photo to Peta and say 'these are all the people who came to support you' then that will mean almost as much to her as the money,” he said. 

“Just to see this big crowd of people came down to show their support.

“If they spend a few bucks then that will be great for the family. 

“We have got people in there who are just planning to come down and walk it, jog it slowly, whatever they need to do. 

“We have a lot of people entering who are not athletes and that is pleasing to see, people who just want to contribute and participate and take part of it.”

The 400m invitational handicap will take place after the 242m run for Peta. 

Participants who enter before this Thursday night will receive a Positive Energy Through Athletics t-shirt.

For more information and to enter visit peta242.eventdesq.com

This story A special event for a young athlete facing an uphill battle first appeared on The Armidale Express.