Olympic Track Great in Praise of Volunteers
Tuesday, 29th November 2011 at 12:38 pm
It was a volunteer that ruined Raelene Boyle’s Olympic dream in Montreal, the track star told the Volunteering Australia conference.
But the 60 year-old Sunshine Coast resident reflected that regardless – volunteerism has been a consistent positive presence in her life – from a young runner who relied on “women around the table” organising races, to her “cancer journey” where she connected with the Breast Cancer Network of Volunteers.
She said, “Without volunteers, these Olympic Games would not occur.”
Recently she took pride in “watching volunteering in Queensland ‘post water’ – steeping up to the blocks. It was a special moment – it makes you realise when you watch something like that – how important volunteering is.”
Boyle, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996 and suffered a range of health issues including ovarian cancer and a burst appendix said she has been deeply impressed by the work of volunteers who assist cancer sufferers.
She mentioned people who drive patients to treatment, and take them out for coffee afterwards, to the women who turn up several times a week to pack breast cancer kits, including special bras and information packs as part of an initiative of Breast Cancer Network Australia.
She signaled out Lyn Swinburne as being a women who inspired a range of volunteers to support women with cancer – and “treat them as people – not a statistic.”
Boyle said of the 14,000 women who get diagnosed with breast cancer each year “we get to 82 % of women with our kits.”
Boyle also volunteers as a board member and attends forums in rural and regional areas. There she meets with women with breast cancer who have “come in off properties and stations.”
“I love my breast cancer work – and feel it’s very important. I see it as about being a balance in life – I gained so much as a youngster. Now it’s time to give back.”