Mum walking to honour son killed in Afghanistan
SINCE losing her son in the Afghanistan conflict four years ago, Linda Birt continues to honour the memory of Corporal Ashley Birt.
He was just 22 years old when the geospatial technician was killed in 2011 and although the pain is still raw for Mrs Birt, she is determined to do what she can to help other servicemen and women and their families.
Her latest feat is to spend 10 days walking up to 65km each day as part of the charity Walking Wounded's Tribute to the Anzacs.
This is just a small portion of the monumental seven-month, multi-continent, endurance event, which aims to raise at least $2 million to provide suicide prevention and intervention services, counselling, employment guidance and physical rehabilitation facilities for returned soldiers.
"Since we lost Ashley, I've found you need a challenge all the time to get you going," Mrs Birt said.
"I walked the Kokoda Trail in 2013 and met so many soldiers with post traumatic stress that if I could raise even $10 for them, I would do anything.
"I think if we can help just one person, it will be worth every step."
Mrs Birt's son Dale, a telecommunications technician in the army, is hoping to complete the Mt Kilimanjaro climb, which is the final leg of the journey.
"It would be an honour and a great experience," he said.
The endurance event also includes the summit of Mt Everest, the traverse of Australia and trekking the Kokoda Trail.
While the event is a tribute to the all Anzacs, it most importantly recognises the 41 young men who lost their lives in the war in Afghanistan.
Among them were Gympie-born Corporal Birt and Private Grant Kirby, 35, from Nambour.
Walking Wounded founder and CEO Brian Freeman said a Roll of Honour, encased in a cylinder provided by the Australian War Memorial and carrying the AWM Centenary logo, would be escorted by parents of the fallen soldiers in Afghanistan.
"Our aim is to make a grand and lasting difference to the lives of contemporary veterans while honouring those people who made the supreme sacrifice," Mr Freeman said. "During the traverse, we'll travel through 89 cities and towns. At all the larger towns and cities, we're inviting people to join us for the final 20, 10, five or two kilometres to run and or walk into the town."
To find out how you can get involved, visit http://www.walkingwounded.org.au.