Northern Territory Police Officer Senior Constable First Class Tammy Watson had just taken up running when tragedy struck her family.
Snr Cstbl 1C Watson had just been diagnosed with cervical cancer when her two youngest children, Jayden then four and Tahlia then two, were diagnosed with a rare eye condition, in which they will lose their sight completely.
Determined not to let these life changing events consume her, Snr Cstbl 1C Watson together with Western Australian police officer, Senior Constable Natalee Cunningham, created the virtual running event Run 4 Blue.
“I met Natalee at the 2018 Police Games in Mandurah after having spent months talking via an online social networking group called Running Mums Australia,” said Snr Cstbl 1C Watson
“My children had not long been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, and Natalee and I had just completed a virtual run when she asked for some more info about their condition, and eventually we came together and created Run 4 Blue.”
A month earlier, Snr Cstbl 1C Watson had received the diagnosis of cervical cancer and had begun chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
“I hated running, absolutely hated it but I needed to do something and I knew exercise was good for my mental health. I wasn’t prepared to let what was happening in my life to consume me so I needed to find something to keep me active.”
“As part of my treatment I put the running part back into my life,” said Snr Cstbl 1C Watson
“I attended Park Run every Saturday for the last 14 weeks of my treatment, where I really developed a social network who supported me.
“I guess it’s pretty well known that exercise can help your mental health and that’s exactly what I did, it kept me going, it gave me something to look forward to, it gave me something to set goals towards.”
In the year following her treatment, Watson ran two half marathons, a marathon and two Ultra Marathons of 50 and 100kms.
“I did the 50km in just over eight hours in the Blue Mountains, which was pretty cool, and the 100km took me right on 19hrs. I injured myself half way so hobbled for last 50kms.” Snr Cstbl 1C Watson
Now in its second year, Run 4 Blue is held throughout the month of May and is successfully raising and donating its proceeds to fellow officers and their families via Police Legacies across Australia.
“We’ve seen a lot more people come on board and register this year following the very unfortunate circumstances of the four members being killed in Melbourne and the death of a South Australian Police Officer in a traffic crash not long after. Money raised as a result of Run 4 Blue goes into Police Legacies, who support their Legatees,” said Snr Cstbl 1C Watson
“In our first year we donated a total of $16,000 towards the eight Police Legacies around Australia, which was amazing. It was our first year, which was all about getting the word out there and supporting the cause.”
“This year we’re on track for a $90,000 donation Australia wide. Registrations will remain open until the end of May, and depending on how we go we may continue into June so we can do some of the physical events that we had in the works before COVID-19.”
Snr Cstbl 1C Watson continues to encourage and support others in taking their first step.
“You don’t need to run, you can walk and it’s not about how far you go, but about getting out and getting some fresh air and remembering that life is what we make of it and one foot in front of the other and we’ll make it there.”