The Heart Foundation has today announced four inspiring Aussies as winners in the 2020 Golden Shoe Awards.
Run annually by Heart Foundation Walking, the Golden Shoe Awards recognise individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to walking.
Winner: Nikki Baluk of Waikiki, WA
Nikki suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke, in May 2016 when she was 28 weeks’ pregnant. Thankfully, Nikki recovered. However, knowing that a TIA can be a warning sign of a future stroke, Nikki was keen to stay fit and healthy after the birth of her daughter, Eden.
When she returned to her position as clinic manager at Harbour Family Chiropractic in Port Kennedy, Nikki was fortunate to be able to start up a community walking club, with the support of the Heart Foundation and her employer. This group now has over 30 members and is still growing.
“Our membership ranges from new mums to people in their 70s, some of whom have experienced heart conditions themselves,” said Nikki, 42. “The group not only helps us all keep moving, it is an amazing social support. I can’t image my life without it.”
Category: Wellness Warrior
Winner: Judy McGurk of Fisher, ACT
Judy might just be the busiest 80-year-old in Canberra. She is Walk Organiser for not one but three Heart Foundation Walking groups at her retirement village, Araluen. Since joining Heart Foundation Walking 12 years ago, Judy has completed almost 700 Heart Foundation walks.
Fellow walker Barbara Gillies nominated Judy for a Golden Shoe Award, writing: “Judy is fit, healthy and active thanks to walking everywhere and catching a bus to more distant locations.I must admit, I thought she may have been ten years younger. Never having driven anywhere has been Judy’s key to a very healthy lifestyle.”
Judy said walking is terrific for her members’ physical and mental wellbeing, while also providing a social outlet. “It is an honour to win this award for doing something I love. I think it’s wonderful.”
Category: Courage and Commitment
Winner: Jean Seary of Nowra, NSW
Jean, 82, joined the Nowra Walkie Talkies in November 2009 when she learned she was at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. After changing her diet and walking regularly, Jean’s blood sugar readings returned to normal.
Recently, Jean stepped up her walking when her doctor diagnosed a “fatty liver”. She now walks around seven kilometres a day and has lost an extra 10 kilos. She also attends an exercise class and encourages others to join Heart Foundation Walking.
Jean was nominated for a Golden Shoe Award by the Walkie Talkies’ Walk Organiser, Mollie Robinson. “Jean is an excellent example of how regular walking contributes to good health,” Mollie said. “She has a great commitment to her health and diligently works to maintain it.”
Winner: Leoni Warren of Tweed Heads South, NSW
Leoni, 66, has been one of the Walk Organisers of the Banora Walkers Heart Foundation Walking group since it started in April 2011. Over the years, Leoni has helped to plan dozens of walks for the group’s 45 members.
“I enjoy researching new places to explore on our walks and setting out on an adventure. We have discovered some interesting walking tracks and waterways,” Leoni said.
Leoni also enjoys watching her members’ health and fitness improve through regular walking. “We have had people join us after a heart attack or to help with their mobility. It is very rewarding to see their confidence and ability grow week by week.”
The Tweed Shire is a popular retirement destination, but some find themselves lonely after moving there. “They leave behind friends they made through work or their kids’ school and have to start all over again,” Leoni said. “Heart Foundation Walking is a great platform for making new friends.”
Heart Foundation Director of Active Living, Adjunct Professor Trevor Shilton, congratulated this year’s Golden Shoe Award winners.
“These award recipients have all demonstrated a wonderful commitment to walking, which will in turn inspire and encourage others to be more physically active,” Professor Shilton said.
“This is important, because being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease, which continues to be the single leading cause of death in Australia,” he said.
“Getting involved in Heart Foundation Walking is a great way to ensure you meet the recommended minimum 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, and as our winners can attest, it can also be a source of great fun and friendship.”
The winners will each receive a gift card and a Golden Shoe Award pin.
2020 Winners from left to right: Nikki Baluk, Judy McGurk, Jean Seary and Leoni Warren.
Heart Foundation Walking is supported by the Australian Government, the Queensland Government and SportAUS.