The crowd cheered for Rose Spiteri when she crossed the finish line of the Can4Cancer fundraising walk in Sydney — not because she came in first place, but because she came in last.
Ms Spiteri has cerebral palsy, and wasn’t certain she would complete the 21km walking route around the city’s famous harbour.
“The thought of it was scary,” says Ms Spiteri, who’s worked for Commonwealth Bank for more than 25 years and is now a senior manager in supplier management.
She’d never participated in Can4Cancer, the bank’s annual cancer research fundraiser that CommBank runs in the partnership with Tour de Cure, but two factors motivated her join this year: her father’s death from pancreatic cancer, and her workmates signing up to take part together.
Ms Spiteri ultimately completed the walk in a little over seven hours — about two hours longer than most participants, by her reckoning. By the time she reached the finish line, outside Commonwealth Bank’s head office in Darling Harbour, event organisers had almost packed up. They formed a small guard of honour for her as she finished the event.
“I couldn’t stop crying afterwards,” she tells CBA Newsroom, thanking her supporters for their encouragement. “I was so emotional and proud of myself — I didn’t believe that I could do it, and I did it.”