Penrith man’s mission to make us think: Walking with purpose

Michael Kelleher on Tuesday morning. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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A Penrith local will walk at least 100 kilometres in 24 hours to raise awareness for an important cause.

On November 11, Michael Kelleher will walk approximately 168 laps of the football field at Hickey’s Sporting Complex to educate people and support those affected by PTSD.

“I’m really excited,” he told the Weekender.

Kelleher said his main goal is to raise awareness and have a positive impact in the mental health space.

He battled with severe depression after dealing with significant loss in a relatively short period.

“My daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy then a week later I lost my father to a massive heart attack,” Kelleher said.

“COVID struck weeks after that and put everyone into chaos and turmoil.

“Three months later I lost an uncle and not six months after that I lost my grandfather.

“I got to a point where I was rattling like a coin purse on antidepressants.”

In 2021, Kelleher decided that he was going to change his mindset and challenge himself to make a difference.

He said he saw an opportunity to get out of a funk and leave a legacy.

Now, he is at the forefront of “bizarre” challenges that he hopes will start conversations about topics that shouldn’t be taboo.

“I just went, I’m going to change my life and just do something completely and utterly insane every single year for a good cause,” he said.

“The first year, I grew my facial hair for 365 days for men’s mental health.

“Last year, I did ‘12 months giving back’ where I donated my time and resources to raising funds and awareness for charity organisations and volunteer groups.”

After losing a loved one who battled with severe PTSD, Kelleher decided to throw his support behind tackling the stigma around it.

“A conversation can change someone’s life,” Kelleher said.

“And it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength to be able to ask for help.

“You should never walk alone and it gets easier when you’ve got multiple people around you to support you.”

Kelleher explained the idea behind the walk, saying it will get harder and harder and represent what it is like to struggle with PTSD.

He also said he is extremely grateful for the support he’s received from his employer and family, who will walk the final lap with him.

On the day, he is encouraging as many people as possible to come down and walk a lap or two around the field with him.

Kelleher said he hopes to inspire people to start talking about a problem that cannot be solved through fundraising alone.

“If all I do is make a difference for one person then it is a 100 per cent success because I’ve made a change in the world for the better,” he said.

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