Keep connecting. That's the message to farmers from the chair of the Rural Support Trust, Neil Bateup.
Jack Keeys is running 26km from Paeroa to Thames to prepare for the marathon on November 1.
With his “gumboot marathon” Jack aims to raise funds and awareness for two causes; New Zealand’s Rural Support Trust network and Melanoma New Zealand.
Last year at the age of 24, Jack was diagnosed with melanoma — the same disease that took his father Kevin when Jack was just 12 years old.
Jack got a dodgy spot-checked and caught early. Two surgeries later he’s cancer-free.
Jack balances his work as an Agri-food Research and Insights analyst at KPMG with helping his mum back on her dairy farm after she recently lost her partner.
“Working in the Agri-Food industry, I'm acutely aware of the challenges faced by rural communities, and farmers facing ongoing challenges with weather & climate, debt & financing, and regulation & perception.
“I decided to run the Auckland Marathon in gumboots to raise awareness and funds for these two awesome organisations.’
Rural Support Trust National Council Chair Neil Bateup says Jack’s enthusiasm has brought more people along with him to run in gumboots.
“It’s really cool when these young guys get in and do something for our trusts, as it helps get the word out that we have Rural Support Trusts around the country here to help look after all our rural people.
“Sometimes it’s harder for younger guys to pick up the phone and ask for help, and we want them to know that we are just a phone call or email away.”
Chief executive of Melanoma New Zealand, Andrea Newland says they are grateful for Jack’s support.
“What great Kiwi spirit to run a marathon in gumboots - it’s truly epic!
“And by sharing his story, Jack is helping raise awareness that melanoma is reasonably common in your mid-20s and 30s, so it’s vital to be vigilant when outside, cover up, wear sunscreen, and make sure you get regular skin checks, as it could save your life.”