Bittersweet moment for Onika

Anita Kirkbright, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian

It was a bittersweet moment for Onika Middleton when she stepped forward to accept the team winners’ cheque at the HBF RunFest on Sunday.

She jubilantly received $1000, which will be donated to the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

Mrs Middleton accepted the cheque on behalf of members of ’Doin’ it for Daz’, but the team would not have existed except for the death of her husband, Darren.

She and between 40 and 50 other competitors logged an accumulated distance of more than 500km at HBF RunFest events at the weekend in honour of boilermaker Darren Middleton, 29, who passed away in February after a three-year battle with brain cancer.

“I really wanted to bring our friends together after his death,” Mrs Middleton said.

“I wanted to do it for his legacy because raising awareness of brain cancer was really important to him.”

According to Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, brain cancer kills more children than any other disease in Australia and more people under 40 in Australia than any other cancer.

Very little is known about brain cancer, its causes or how to treat it.

Mr Middleton was passionate about raising awareness and funds for research of the disease so other families wouldn’t have to go through the trauma his family suffered during his illness.

Mrs Middleton said her husband would have been very proud of his friends for carrying on his legacy.

Bryce Kelly ran 10km for the cause.

He said his best mate Darren was the “sort of bloke who’d take his shirt off to give it to someone in need”.

“The whole time he was sick, he just wanted to raise awareness of brain cancer,” Mr Kelly said.

“The more people know about it, the better it will be for raising money for research.”

The prize money was donated by Geraldton Harriers Club for the winning team’s chosen charity.

Geraldton Harriers Club vice-president and one of the co-ordinators of RunFest, Elizabeth Rogers, said this was the first time a fundraising component had featured in the event’s three-year history.

“This was the most number of team entries we’ve ever had,” she said.

“We may go bigger next year if we can get a corporate sponsor.”

More than 30 teams took part in the team challenge and more than 630 adults and children participated in the two-day HBF RunFest.

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