Meet our National Runners Team

Jess Peil

NSW

Welcome to my marathon running journey. This is not only about the running but also about the purpose. People think us National runners doing 7 marathons in 7 states in 7 days are a little nuts, and we sure are - But it starts the conversation about the reason behind our journey.

Running for Bravehearts has given me such strength to make a change for Australia's children. Running the 7 marathons back in 2019 changed my life and made me discover my reason for being. Child sexual assault is not ok, I won’t stop until it is stamped out. I would love your support on this adventure.

Ross Scott

ACT

My name is Ross Scott. I am a loving partner, devoted father, a Defence veteran, public servant and an avid runner.

I have been extremely lucky to have had a humble and loving upbringing in rural Victoria where I felt safe. I had a childhood free of the abuse that so many Australian children are unfortunate enough to experience.

My partner Kirrily and I have a beautiful, fun-loving, confident 10 year-old daughter. The thought of her being anything other than safe and well terrifies me.

For a number of years now I’ve been taking on road running challenges including Sydney’s iconic City 2 Surf, numerous half marathons and marathons. I recently started in trail ultramarathons completing the Ultra Trail Australia 100 (UTA100) in 2018, and UTA 50 and Canberra 100 in 2019.

I am a quiet Australian, one of many who just live life going about my own business trying to do the best I can. It was only recently that I was made aware of Bravehearts and the incredible work they do. It was a revelation; a moment in time when I knew I could be doing more for our community and the vulnerable children within it. 

Having recently turned 50, I have decided I want to run for a cause. I want to run for those who can’t. I want to run for the children who are unable to escape situations outside of their control. By taking on this challenge I hope to raise awareness and funds to protect our children from sexual assault and exploitation.

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Laura Firth

WA

My name is Laura. I’m a wife, a mother, a runner and fitness instructor! I want people to stand up, be aware, be educated, and all work together to protect children. 

To say I had a rough start could be an understatement. After being removed from my birth home at the age of 4 I was placed into foster homes until the age of 9 when I was adopted.

My adoptive family showed me love, gave me strength and provided me with safety; something all children need. But I’m not running the 777 for me. I’m running the 777 for all the children out there who need someone to be their love, strength, and safety.

I’m running so adults will take notice of this crime, and do what they can to ensure they are educated. I’m asking you to help me do this. To help make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child. To do your bit to ensure that children are protected from sexual assault.

To know that 1 in 5 children will be sexually harmed in some way before the age of 18 is mind-blowingly sad. To know that there is something I can do to help - something YOU can do to help - well that’s a gift.

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Melissa Searle

VIC

As a proud mother of three young adults, my children's safety and opportunity to flourish in this world has always been, and will continue to be, my first priority. However, 1 in 5 children do not have this opportunity, nor do they feel they have a voice or feel safe. I believe that WE are the voice of these children and to become part of the Bravehearts 777 National Team and taking up this challenge demonstrates my commitment to make a difference, raise awareness and to protect our children from harm.

I am an extremely motivated and passionate person who believes that you can do anything you set your mind to, as life is too short to have regrets. I continuously strive to be a positive role model for all.

All my life I have been a runner. In the early days I ran competitively having the absolute privilege of racing against Cathy Freeman and Melinda Gainsford-Taylor. Since those days, my running has taken on a dramatic change, as after children my running became more endurance based, giving ‘mental me’ time and a time for reflection.

Today I am an accredited running coach, personal trainer and CrossFit Coach, where I love using my knowledge to help both our children and adults. I also have many half marathons and marathons to my name. Running for me is not about winning the race, it’s about personal achievement, friendships, role modelling and helping others achieve their own personal goals. This love and importance I place into mental wellbeing, fitness and running has also been instilled into my own family.

Combining my passion to run marathons with the opportunity to be a voice of our children with Bravehearts, will be both challenging and rewarding. I believe that we have the ability to join together and make a difference. It’s all about the kids!

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Stacey Ward

QLD

My name is Stacey, I am in my early 40s and have only been running since 2015. When I started I couldn’t even run 1km, which was embarrassing! Since then I have completed many 5k and 10k events as well as a number of halves, a full marathon and even an ultra (50k).

I run both road and trail but have a soft spot for trails even though I have run a lot less of those events.

I believe Bravehearts is a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to the prevention of child sexual assault. Having worked in the field, I believe that it takes many areas to combat this despicable crime against our most innocent; from law enforcement, to the judicial system, to schools, to the community and finally to our support and educational groups. Everyone can play a part in protecting children.

I have never attempted anything like this but know that I will do myself, my family and friends proud with what I aim to achieve. I WILL run 7 half marathons in 7 States in 7 consecutive days in 2021. Please help me realise this goal by helping me raise $10,000!

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Chris Glacken

SA

I am about to embark on my sixth year running the Bravehearts 777 Marathon - the first year as a state runner in 2015 and the last 4 as a national runner.

A lot of extreme hard work goes into fundraising for this journey. I have tried my best to raise not only funds but also awareness of the crime of child sexual assault here in South Australia. Child sexual assault is real, it happens and it needs to stop and be correctly addressed in our courts.

Through our 'coastalfunruns' series of running events we are slowly lifting the profile of Bravehearts in South Australia. I’m proud of what we have achieved together through our 'team BRAVERUNNER' group, but the mission has only just begun and there is a lot of future hard work needed.

As a grandfather, I want my grandchildren to enjoy life and grow up in a safe environment.

I have previously run 229 official marathons around Australia with my 100th and most memorable marathon being day one of the 2017 777 series in Perth, where I crossed the finish line with legendary Bravehearts runner Dani McLaren.

I'm looking forward to meeting all the new runners in 2021 in another exciting 777 campaign in June!

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Brian Jackson

WA

My name is Brian Jackson. I’m 52 years old, married to my beautiful wife Paula and live in Perth Western Australia. We are blessed with a family of our own and it breaks our hearts when we hear of children whose lives have been devastated by sexual assault.

It is reassuring to know that there is an organisation such as Bravehearts to provide advice and support to those affected by child sexual assault. Fundraising for Bravehearts to support their work, my wife and I hope we can make a difference and perhaps help rebuild a little one's life. 

Pushing yourself to physical extremes is made that much easier when you have such a special reason. It will be tough with highs and lows but what will get me through is the knowledge that my small sacrifice may somehow help Bravehearts keep our little ones safe and happy.

I have always loved running and have completed 55 plus marathons and 15 or so ultra marathons, but never anything as hard as this.

I have set a fundraising target of $10,000 and above! Below is a button to my official fundraising page where donations can be made. I will also be posting regular updates on my fundraising and training on my Facebook page - @insideOutBriansHealthHappinessWeightlossJourney

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Megan McGinty

TAS

First and foremost I am a mother. My partner Gavin and I have our beautiful girl Isla who is five and Hamish (who’s mum passed away when he was 8) who is 17. We live in the small country town of Lapoinya on the NW Coast of Tasmania. I want the best for them as any parent does for their child. My family and I are lucky enough to grow up in a safe and loving family but unfortunately, that is not always the case. Current statistics show 1 in 5 children are sexually assaulted before their 18th Birthday.

I have dreams to help my community and our children who are the future of this country. In both 2016 and 2017 I worked alongside Bravehearts to raise much-needed funds for their ‘Ditto’ education program and this year I am once again raising funds. 

Every child in Australia needs to have access to Bravehearts' 'Ditto' program. I know of a school that ran the Ditto program and the very next day two children from that school disclosed they had been sexually abused. If the program hadn’t gone to their school how long would they have carried that on their shoulders before telling someone? Thanks to Bravehearts they are now getting help.

I hope in taking on this challenge I can raise more awareness and funds to protect our children. By giving what you can and spreading the message we can help children all over Australia.

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John Wilson

ACT

My name is John Wilson, 43yrs old Father to 3 Boys.

I started running about 6yrs ago. My first major event was the Canberra 100km. 100km was Probably not the best one too start with, but I finished it, and was hooked. I signed up for 777 2020, when that was canceled (due to COVID), I had already trained extremely hard and had raised over $16000, so I decided to run the 7 Marathons in Canberra.

We mapped out the 7 routes to incorporate roads to match the States I should have been running that Day. It was a fantastic week, the support I received was truly amazing. I really want to challenge myself again and run the event the way it was designed. So I signed up for 2021. I have committed to raise $10000 for this great and much needed charity.

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Richie Egan

VIC

My name is Richie Egan and I'm a 21-year-old man from Geelong. As part of my goal to complete 100 marathons, in June this year I'm turning things up a notch by taking on Bravehearts' 777 - 7 Marathons in 7 Australian States in 7 Days - to raise funds for the prevention of child sexual assault and exploitation.

To date, I've run 12 marathons in total, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The act of putting all those miles into the legs is but one aspect of how I am trying to live an intentional life; one that involves a never-ending process of building mental toughness, through the constant practice of discipline and seeking out the uncomfortable. 

As part of my participation in Bravehearts' event, I’m presented with the challenge to raise $10000 to secure my spot, of which a sizeable amount will be going directly to their charity so they can continue the critical work they do to protect the children of Australia from sexual assault. To kickstart the fundraising effort, I have personally donated $295, $1 for every kilometre I will run over the 7 days.  

I look forward to what will be my greatest challenge yet, in June this year. Please help me meet my fundraising goal by donating generously via the link provided. 

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Stacey Dowling

NSW

Hi, my name is Stacey! I am 25 and live on the Central Coast NSW with my husband and crazy puppy, Zelda. This year will be my first experience of Bravehearts’ 777, where I hope to run 7 half marathons in 7 states in 7 days. 

My number one passion in life and work is mental health. I believe every individual has the right to lead a life worth living. In my work as a registered music therapist I try to help individuals achieve this by equipping them with skills, providing a supportive therapeutic relationship and offering opportunities for creative self-expression and processing. Some of the circumstances and events that lead people to seeking help and support for their mental health cannot be avoided, however some can, and I strongly believe that if an experience as potentially traumatising as child sexual abuse and/or exploitation can be prevented it must.  

This is where Bravehearts come in. This fantastic charity works hard to tackle the issue of child protection from all angles and I am honoured to be fundraising for such a worthy cause. Over the past few years running has become a passion of mine, and an incredibly important part of my own mental health care. It makes sense to me then that I take on this running challenge to raise not only funds, but awareness, for this great cause. For every step I take in the lead up, and during the 777 event, I hope to be starting a conversation, raising money for essential counselling, or re-educating society on how all children deserve the right to feel safe. 

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Kelly Mcleod

SA

My name is Kelly, a proud mum of two beautiful adult daughters and a very understanding husband of 27 years.

The past 7 years have been a life changing experience, from being 20kg overweight, unfit , partying and wasting Sundays hungover, to realising it wasn't a healthy life nor was I being the positive role model I wanted to be for my daughters, so the journey to find myself began.

I love running trails, volunteering and being a part of a massive community as CO ED for Mawson Lakes Parkrun. Meeting likeminded, inspiring people and creating a whole new world has made the biggest impact, not on just myself but my whole family and I'm extremely grateful for it every day.

The loss of my Dad to cancer in 2016 and returning from injury in 2020, I have a strong need for ‘running with purpose’, so with an amazing gift from Chris Glacks and the Coastalfunruns #teambraverunners I am honoured to be part of the team and excited about continuing to raise awareness and funds helping Bravehearts to protect our children.

The 777 events will be my biggest challenge ever and looking forward to sharing the pavement with so many inspiring legends.

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Stuart Wise

ACT

Running 7 marathons in 7 states in 7 days and raising funds for a great cause; how could anyone say no to that? I’m in for the first part, but I need your help for the second part, raising $10,000 for Bravehearts. 

I have been running for nearly 20 years. My long distance running started after a bet between workmates, with the stakes of having to run a marathon. Whilst I didn’t lose that bet, I decided to join in on the challenge and haven’t look back since.?  

Everyone knows running has lots of physical benefits – it keeps you active, healthy, and strong, although post run my body often tells me otherwise! However, it’s the mental aspects of running that keep me coming back - there is nothing better than that ‘runner’s high’. Research also says that running improves your memory and makes you smarter; so I’m hanging on to that! 

Bravehearts is such a fantastic organisation. There are not many more worthwhile causes than helping educate, empower and protect kids against sexual abuse, and help those that have unfortunately experienced it. Please help support these kids; it will change their lives.

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Adam Engel

QLD

Everyday people do everyday things, but I don’t regard myself as an everyday person. I’m motivated to not live an everyday life. I love a challenge and for me completing seven marathons in seven states in seven days is right up there as not only an ultimate physical challenge but mental challenge. 

I am a driven person who has a ‘curious’ outlook on life. Curious as to where my mind and my body can take me. I am driven to be the best dad I can be. This to me means not just being there for them but setting a positive example and inspiring them so they can be great in whatever they want to do.

As a teacher I work with kids every day, and there are few things in this world that tug on my emotions more than seeing kids in need. Bravehearts’ mission is to prevent child sexual assault and exploitation in our society with a vision to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child. I am fortunate to have not had to personally endure anything these kids have had to, but I want to help raise awareness and assist Bravehearts to ensure this doesn’t happen to children any more. 

I love the sport of triathlon and it’s fair to say that in my time in the sport, I have been attracted to the longer and harder races. I am fortunate that my body allows me to fulfil my enjoyment of triathlon and running. Triathlon and running keeps me mentally fresh and happy while also physically fit so I feel it is only right to use this capability to assist Bravehearts to better the lives of all Australia children. 

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Peter Mahoney

VIC

My Name is peter Mahoney and I’m 58. Many times I tried to begin this. The secret carried since childhood drives me now. My father was a very violent abusive alcoholic, along with the violence shared by my mother and siblings, unfortunately for me there was more. I’m stating this not for sympathy it’s just the facts and leads into why I’m so very keen to support Bravehearts. 

 I was so very lucky to have an amazingly strong loving mum who got us kids through those years but the there was no support, no one outside our home knew. That’s why the school programs delivered by Bravehearts to me are so important. If kids can be shown it’s ok to speak up, to empower them not to be victims, we can change the futures of not only the kids, but entire families. 

 I’m the luckiest man in the world, I know too many here in Ballarat who couldn’t carry the burden and have taken their own lives, but here I am having been father to five kids. Now my youngest is 24yr and I have eight magnificent grandchildren. 

 They are proud that I’m doing the 777 again. Yes I can run - that’s the easy part. The hard part is asking for financial support. There are so many worthy causes out there, you can’t get behind all of them. I very much understand that and only ask for your consideration here to help me get behind Bravehearts and help protect the most precious in our community, the kids.  

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Steph Brown

NSW

Hi my name is Steph and here I am back for round two. In 2019 I was brave and strong enough to compete in the 777 Marathon raising funds and awareness for Bravehearts. That week changed my life! There were times I doubted I could finish, but through all the throbbing pains and aching blisters I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and completed all 7 marathons, in 7 consecutive days, in 7 states.

So here I am again training and preparing to do it all again in July 2020. Running is not just a fitness activity for me, it’s addictive and it’s a way of life. Each time my feet hit the pavement I feel strong and empowered, which allows me to strive to achieve my next goal. The biggest reason running is a huge part of my life is because I can run, so why not keep using my running for a cause?

I have been fortunate enough to have not needed the help and support from an organization such as Bravehearts, but after hearing Ian and Kayleen Johnston’s story I now have a deep passion to be able to use my running to help people who need it.  

Many people ask why I would be crazy enough to enter the 777 Marathon. Well, if running 7 marathons is what it takes for people to stand up and notice this great organisation, for people to stand behind them to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child, then I will run proudly in the 777 again in July 2020. 

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Matt Arnold

QLD

I’m Matt Arnold and live in Rockhampton QLD. I am a husband to Carolyn for 10 years, father to Bill, and a proud Uncle to twelve nieces and nephews.

Endurance running has been part of my life for many years now since I started to question myself of what am I capable of. I run distances from a local Parkrun 5km right through to a 100 miler and many l00km Ultramarathons. Many with +5000m of elevation climbing, numerous creek crossings and all manners of weather conditions.

While I love the trails I also love a challenge and helping others. While living and travelling in all corners of Australia I have witnessed a number of terrible situations that I felt hopeless in. I am proud that I have the ability to assist a great organisation that helps abused and sexually assaulted Australian children that deserve to live safely within our cities, towns and communities.

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David Roby

QLD

My name is David Roby and due to my blessed upbringing, I love to do what I can to give back to those who maybe haven't been as fortunate as I have been. I've been involved in sport since I was 5 years-old and for the past 6 years have been able to adapt all the life lessons I've learnt through sport (soccer, athletics and running in particular), in the day-to-day running of my gym in Brisbane, while prioritising charity involvement by our members. 

I have been involved in numerous events run by charities that help kids in a range of different unfortunate situations, including my first marathon - the 2018 NY York Marathon, where I ran for PHAB Kids (an organisation that support homeless children in NY). Whether it's from fundraising or donation, to raising awareness, I love being able to use my up brining to make a positive change on other people's lives, especially kids. 

Hearing about the great work Bravehearts does within its sector, linking in with my industry of fitness and health and my love of pushing your body to extreme limits of resilience, I'm very excited to complete the 777 this year! 

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Juliette Peck

NSW

My name is Juliette Peck. I'm the wife of a wonderful supportive husband and mother of a beautiful five year-old girl and a furry dog.

I have run most of my life, but this was shorter distances such as 800m and 1 mile. It was not until a lot later on that I decided I wanted to run longer distances and started with half marathons, progressing to the marathon and then finally ultra-marathons.

I heard about Bravehearts' 777 about two years ago and it captured my imagination, and it's all I've talked about since. The fascination is not only the immense physical challenge this will bring, but it was also hearing about the fantastic work that Bravehearts does. This has become very personal for me as I'm a mother. Every child has the right to feel safe.

So this year, which for me is a milestone birthday (scary to think I am 50 this year!) I wanted to give something back and help support an amazing cause whilst doing something I love. Join me as a try and run 7 marathons in 7 days in 7 states! 

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Ben Wilson

NSW

Hello, my name is Ben Wilson. I'm 16 years old and in year 11 in Canberra. I've been doing Muay Thai since I was 5 years old. I've always been fit and heathy. I'm always looking for different challenges. My Dad (John Wilson) signed up for Bravehearts' 777 in 2020, unfortunately the event didn't go ahead as planned (due to COVID-19) and Dad ran the 7 Marathons in Canberra. I had trained a lot with Dad in the lead-up so I decided to support him by running with him everyday. I ran 158km that week including one Half and two full Marathons. 

This year I've decided to challenge myself even further by signing up to run all seven marathons.

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