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Ex NRL Player Chris Walker's Walk of a Lifetime


Ex NRL Player Chris Walker's Walk of a Lifetime

Felicity Cohen: Hello, I’m Felicity Cohen. I’m so excited to introduce you to my wellness warriors podcast. For over 20 years, I’ve been a passionate advocate for helping thousands of Australians find solutions to treating obesity and health-related complications through surgical intervention and holistic managed care.

My podcast is dedicated to all the people past, present, and future who have helped shape my journey and continue to inspire me to work consistently to achieve a healthier Australia in both adults and future generations. I hope you enjoy it.

Welcome to the wellness warriors podcast. Today I would like to introduce you to Chris Walker.

Welcome. Thanks for coming on board. So you’ve had an amazing life journey and I’d like to sort of go back to the beginning before I get to your most recent, incredible achievements. You grew up in Toowoomba?

Chris Walker: Yes. Grew up in Toowoomba four boys. So My mother, Trish, who is the salt of the earth raised me and my three brothers along with my father, Gary.

And yeah, we’ve had a a pretty extensive rugby league career. All the family started with obviously my father playing in the seventies and the eighties and the Brisbane comp. Yeah, he likes a Wally Lewis and Melman Ingo and all that played in the Brisbane. So, and then the natural progression for us ball boys was to sort of follow in the footsteps of my father and my mother Trish, her brother played for the Queensland rugby union reds back then.

Felicity Cohen: So rugby league in your veins. Wow. Were you very competitive as brothers playing the same sport together?

Chris Walker: Yes, we were very, very, very competitive with my brothers and that. And what have we, what have we did as as siblings playing and we grew up with that a TV show that we had no TV for probably about 11.

Felicity Cohen: Oh, that’s already my favorite thing. It was incredible.

Chris Walker: It was the most, it was the most amazing. Yeah, I didn’t go without but just the comradery that I have with my brothers through yeah, growing up without a TV, not sitting in front of a TV having dinner. Like I do sometimes with my family over at three kids and my, and my wife, we sit there and sometimes we’ll sit there and watch TV and have dinner.

But for me, growing up as a kid, we’d all sit around the table. Yeah. My three brothers and my mum and dad, and we would talk and we would exactly, I’m made my brothers are so close and my family is so close because we grew up. All our lives you know, talking and expressing what we did at school and what we had a bad day at school.

We could talk about it around the dinner table because everyone was all ears and usually sit there for 45 minutes to an hour. And then once we completed our chores, which consists of washing and wiping out putting away and we have. We had our rosters as kids and that’s her mom and dad raised us. We had our chores and if we didn’t stick pilot, we couldn’t, we can’t do it now, but we cover smack my mom or dad and be put back into line.

And yeah, it was a childhood that normally people, normally kids got to experience, but on narrow that the more development as an adult was stemming from the closest that I’ve got with my mum and dad and my brothers and the way we were brought up.

Felicity Cohen: I think that is incredible. The value that we place around dinner time, but having that focus on around a dinner table. And I love that because for me, that’s always been super important. My dining table. There’s no way I’ll ever haven’t needed tell him the TV and I’m still like that my children are in their twenties, but you know, sitting around the table with them is still the most important thing ever

Chris Walker: it is and even that continues now, like we have, we have Christmases together where we all are together. We do get together a lot. my mom and dad live in Berlin. my younger brother, Luke, he lives on the gold coast, Ben Lyndon, Ipswich, and chandeliers in Brisbane. So when you. There’s not a vast area where we’ve got to go to all to be together.

But yeah, when we do catch up, it’s the TV’s off. even now, like we all sit around mum and dad has 13 grandkids, so they all go play and do what they gotta do. And we all sit around and we talk and we communicate. Sometimes we have arguments, like all families, but it’s resolved really quick. And that’s because when we’re young, if we did have a fight or we did have an argument, which siblings are going to it’s human nature.

We were, we resolved it pretty quick. So yeah, I’m very blessed with with my childhood and I look back on it with so many fond memories

Felicity Cohen: Spectacular. So how many of you actually ended up playing professional sports?

Chris Walker: Yeah, beauty of my older brother, Ben on 41 years of age, he’s 45.

Shane’s 43 on 41 than my younger brother is 37. so Ben, my older brother, he’s the one that sort of trailblased us into playing. He signed with the Broncos at a young age, then obviously the progression went down, shine my second oldest and then me, but then Luke, he went down and played for the Broncos, but never played first grade.

So the three older boys, me, Ben, and Shay, where he had a very long career in the NRL. And it’s something that, yeah, when you get to play football, when you get to play professional sport with, with your siblings and being in the same team for the Broncos or whoever with whoever we were playing. To get to play alongside your brothers at a professional level, let alone an amateur level was a very special moment for myself. So I can only imagine what it was like for my mum and dad and my uncles and aunties who were sitting in the grandstand, watching it.

Felicity Cohen: Amazing. And there was one period when all three of you were in the same team playing together.

Chris Walker: Yeah, isn’t it. And I think the, well, it’s been 113 years of, of NRL football to the 1908 was when rugby league. created and it’s never happened where there was three brothers play for one team against three brothers who play in the opposite team. And that happened when we played the Hughes, the Hughes family, the, the, the three Hughes boys that were applying for Canterbury.

And me and my brothers were applying for the bronc guys and more on the field at the same time playing against each other. So it was a very special moment again for my mom and dad, that would have been very proud. To yeah. To yeah. To, to play on your brother, saw your brothers at that level was, was a very, very good thing.

Felicity Cohen: Spectacular. That would have been a really historic game and well filled with memories for everybody. Yeah, definitely.

Chris Walker: It all. I still remember that game. Like it was yesterday, it was I think it was 2001 or 2000, but that happened. So I ran the 20 year mark and I still remember that as one of those games, I can still remember in the back of my head, like it was.

Felicity Cohen: And you played for a French team catalog dragons. Okay. And where abouts were they?

Chris Walker: So they were based the Southern side of France on the Mediterranean side, which has a little place called can I apply Perignon? So perpetuity and I was there for a year to learn to speak French. I couldn’t speak French.

Felicity Cohen: It’s my second language to have a bit of a chat in French.

Chris Walker: Very rusty

Felicity Cohen: disappointed, disappointed.

Chris Walker: But yeah. Well, well, I’ve picked it up pretty, like she picked it up pretty good. So if we went to the shops, I knew if I was with Courtney, I knew that she could you know, relate to the locals and whatnot, but I couldn’t, for some reason it was, I don’t know, it must’ve been, I’ve had too many headaches.

I don’t know, but I just, I just couldn’t pick up the language. I mean, were only there for a year. So it wasn’t like I was over there for 10 years and, but a lot of the guys who I played football with were from Australia that had been over there for. You know, two or three years, some of them, some of them have been there for five or six years and I could speak fluent.

Felicity Cohen: Amazing, incredible. Once you’re immersed in it, it’s a lot easier to learn. I think the first year is probably the hardest. if you’d stayed on, I’m guaranteeing you would’ve been speaking fluent French with me right now.

Chris Walker: I picked up, I picked up a few little words, pebble pebble, pebble along Leonard. Do you speak English?

I think it’s been, I mean, it’s been. 11 years until I was there, but I really enjoyed my time there. It was you know, to, to play, to get the opportunity to travel the world and in my sport was amazing. And I remember where perpend Yong is. It’s about probably 25 minutes north of the Spanish border in France.

And I remember the first week I was there, I rang dad and mum. And dad goes, what’d you do today? And I said, I drove, I drove to Spain. I drove to Barcelona, went and had lunch and drove home. It was all in one day. And I said, the dad is supposed to, the dentist said, you know what? If I drive a half an hour from your place, I mean, new south Wales.

But to experience that type of experience where you’re, you know, you drive 25 minutes and you’re new.

Country and the landscape changes. So vastly the culture changes, the food, everything changes

the, the, where we were. like I said, we were right on the Mediterranean. So we were on that side, took us four and a half hours to drive to nice.

And we’d, we’d spent a lot of time in these and Monica and all that sort of stuff. And to experience that culture was just phenomenal and very grateful to be able to say that through my profession and professional sport, I was given that opportunity to go experience things that nobody people get to experience when they’re, when they’re working and getting paid for it.

So again, rugby league has given me so much. I’m very appreciative of being given the opportunity to play professional rugby league and professional sport.

Felicity Cohen: Amazing. What did you see as the differences in terms of being part of a French league compared to an Australian league? Was it a very different football culture?

Chris Walker: Yeah, it was, it was, it was similar, but it wasn’t because we obviously the, the language barrier. In my team because we had Cameron dragons was new into the super league. We played in the, in the, in the English, they believe so they had professional comp over there and because it was a new team or a new organisation into that superly era, we were given the okay to have more Australian players in the team.

So there were a lot of Australian players in the team. Anyway, I think it was half, half. If you play in the super league, I think you couldn’t have more than three or four players from Australia in one team, but the culture is exactly the same, but yeah, the language barrier for me, a lot of the guys or the French guys could speak fluent English.

So that made that barrier a lot hard, but a lot easier. But yeah, the, the football culture over there is, is very similar to Australia. And and at that time, when I did leave, it was getting better.

Felicity Cohen: Amazing. At what point in time did you actually exit professional rugby?

Chris Walker: Yeah. So what are we? 2001. So 2011.

So firstly, this time, 10 years ago, I retired from playing rugby. I was playing for the Paramatta reels in Sydney and I had a business going on in Australia up, sorry, not in Southeast Queensland and just had the opportunity halfway through the year because business was starting to go well to bring my family back home, where my wife is from Toowoomba.

I’m from Toowoomba, and she’s got family up on the gold coast. So it just made a lot easier away from her family for two or three years away from my family and had that opportunity to. know, kickstart my business back here in Southeast Queensland was, was a good enough excuse for me to finish my career.

I was 31 years of age and sort of getting to the end of my career. And I didn’t have, I knew that I had to retire because I started losing the passion for playing rugby league. And once I think once you start, once you lose a passion and you can’t get it back, which I tried to get it back, I tried to love it again.

that’s when I knew that it was time for me to, to exit. yeah, leave, leave rugby league. And now I’m just a fan of watching it.

Felicity Cohen: So when you say the passion had kind of dwindled for you, do you think that’s because it was such a, all empowering, all encompassing kind of lifestyle that you lived and breathed it every day. And it had a, a moment in time where it had just, you know, that was it.

Chris Walker: It sort of sucked the life out of me as much as it could. And I’m happy for that because I gave, I still had people come up to me and say, you know, you’ve had a great career. I used to love watching you play and all that sort of stuff.

But because I had such a young family, it was, it was time to put my wife at the back end of those guys. And do you know, my three kids and my wife who, you know, who I upgraded her life to follow me around the world and for me to bring Courtney and the kids back to. Well, my parents and Courtney’s parents and Courtney’s brother and sister and my, and my brothers, it was, it was the right time.

Like I said, it sucked the life out of me, but I was happy with my decision and awesome.

Felicity Cohen: So the last 10 years, what has that been like for you? You had a business to come back to here in Queensland.

Chris Walker: Yeah. I had a earth moving business as my exit strategy from rugby league and we fell on hard times, probably four and a half years ago now, and things really, really hit the fan, but What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger in the life’s lessons and the business lessons that I learned from going through that period. I’m much wiser for the run, unfortunately. you know, for Courtney and I, because it was such a stressful time in my life, it sort of galvanised caught, you know, As a team. And that was probably one of the best things I got out of what we went through.

you know, with earth moving, it can be very turbulent there bills not be paid and people don’t want to pay you sometimes, but that’s all part of the learning curve. And, and unfortunately we did fall on hard times. Yeah, like the old saying what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. So we’re, you know, we’re, we’re firmly back on our feet and yeah, with the kids being the age, they are 11 and 13, the twins are 11 arepas 13.

you know, we’re a mindset now where it’s so strong and it’s, we’ve advanced so far from four years ago. And like I said, it’s galvanised us as a family and coordinate as a team. So if you can take life lessons. Yeah. Well, I say, if you, if you’re dealt lemons, make lemonade ,so we’re making lemonade

Felicity Cohen: a hundred percent, you know, you’ve got to go through and I was talking about this earlier today.

Chris Walker: You actually have to go through those failures to become the success that you are today. That’s what has actually, you possibly needed that to actually be the success you are. And whether that means how that’s translated to you in your relationship at home with your wife and your family, but also in all of your future successes are going to be so much better, so much more powerful.

They are failures are so it’s so valuable. And I don’t think you can really grasp that until you’ve been there and had that moment in time.

100%. Yeah. It’s, it’s all about, well, for me, it’s about life lessons and I’ve spoke to some of the most successful businessmen who have been a part of my rugby league journey.

And the thing is when you don’t realise it as a young kid coming into play. First grade or a professional sport, the sponsors that are on board. A lot of those guys, you know, the beauty of playing in some very successful clubs involved in with those successful clubs have. Yeah, there’s a lot of very successful businessmen, both on the board directors sponsors and they give you advice.

There was so many, so many. Most wealthiest guys that I know have been through so many hard times with their business careers, but they don’t, it doesn’t deter them. It actually makes them stronger and they come back bigger and better every time. And unfortunately I’ve, I’ve hit rock bottom with that, but with personal development, it’s, I’m on way above Rockwell.

Yeah. And you probably had a lot of lessons from football that has made you so resilient as well. You have to learn as a young person as well. You’re not going to win every game. You’re not always going to be a winner. And you translate that to how you actually perform in business as well. Not everything is going to work out the way you’d like

it to every day with business.

I resorted back to what I learned in my professional career and playing into functional teams and, and being involved in a team environment and a successful team environments. And yeah. Sometimes you are wide and you forget those little lessons that you yeah. You know, that you pick up through being in a sporting environment and a team environment that you do translate into business and they are so similar.

Everything is so similar. It’s, it’s ridiculous. If you can, if you know how to work a team, which I, when I had my earth moving business going, I forgot that that sort of escaped me. In hindsight, hindsight is a beautiful thing. I look back and I go, if I would’ve taken those skills that I learned from a Wayne Bennett or a Craig Bellamy will, then I wouldn’t be in this situation.

So business and playing in a professional team and a professional sport very, very simple, yeah,

Felicity Cohen: Amazing. Self perception and self evaluation of those situations too. So that’s awesome. what do you think were some of the characteristics that underpinned for you the most successful team that you played as a part of?

Chris Walker: Yeah. I think that honesty in the, in the teams, I think work ethic is, is a massive one. not giving up their work ethic for me, having a great work ethic, you know, in a team environment for me is, is number one. It’s if you, if you’ve got the work ethic, well, then everyone else comes in. Everyone buys into what you’re doing.

They know that. Once you were at the football field and I’m playing next to Chris Walker and he’s work ethics unreal. But then I know when I’m playing in a game, then he’s got my back or, you know, a Darren Lockyer. Who’s also one of the best players I’ve played with has, has got a great work ethic. He won’t let the team down.

And if you’re in a team environment, that’s that’s number one for me is making sure that you put in and it’s like being in businesses, like being a worker for someone, if you buy into what they’re called. And having a good culture and having a good work ethic for me, breeds good culture within teams. So yeah, you look at Melbourne storm and you look at the teams that are down the bottom Melbourne stone was work ethic is unbelievable and they work for each other and they play for each other and they get the results.

Felicity Cohen: It’s a shared vision, isn’t it? It’s not just that shared vision, but that common content. ethos that everyone’s on the same page and that you’re all driving towards a hundred percent, a hundred percent, a lot of that.

So tell me a little bit about Fund My Talent. We can see it right there. how did this all come about?

How did you start it and where did we, where let’s go back to how that was kind of created.

Chris Walker: It was created. Well, I’m talking to one of mates who is a very, very successful businessman and he donates a lot of money every year to charities. And he wasn’t, didn’t realise that there are some charities out there that don’t spend the money where they should.

Then we saw two years ago or a year and a half ago with the, with the Bush fires that absolutely crippled so many communities in Australia. And If anyone doesn’t know, Celeste, Barbara checks less Barbara out on social media. Very, very funny comedian gold coast girl, good mates with a mate of mine, Joel Parkinson.

And I think her target was to raise a hundred thousand dollars and she nominated that the funds were going to go to the new south Wales, rural fire brigade, but she didn’t realise that when she had nominated those guys to be the beneficiaries over a hundred thousand, then. Her a hundred thousand, then later went to $53 million.

So she raised $53 million just on the back of her, her connect.

Felicity Cohen: That is the most phenomenal story ever. It’s just so exciting

Chris Walker: is, oh, not a worry. I won’t say the worst thing because the new south Wales, Royal fire brigade in their constitution can only spend the money on training new equipment. Yeah within their organisation, but Celeste thought that she was rebuilding the town rebuilding houses.

Oh wow. And whatnot. So, but they couldn’t spend the money they wanted to, but in their constitution they couldn’t. So what happened so that they’ve all got new equipment on their training facilities which which is still great, which is still fabulous. It’s a fabulous outcome, but. One of the money to actually go to, to the communities, to rebuild home shops like people’s livelihoods and people’s, you know, people’s lives.

So with one more challenge you do a challenge and you on, on the platform that I think there’s 58,000 registered DGI charities in Australia. And the girls in the office, they, they vet all charities and. The charities that come on to fund my challenge, they need to spend at least 60% on their cause or what they say they do.

So an organisation, I just walked from Cairns to gold coast and I’ve nominated a charity. Rise up one of the charities. So, right. I, I did for global awakening, beyond blue rise up, which is domestic violence and the alcohol and drug foundation. So those are my four beneficiaries let’s use rise up as an example.

They, they housed families who have been absolutely decimated by domestic violence. They go in, they get the demographic of the house of the, of the family that need to get out of a very violent situation. So there might be three kids. They’re all under 10. There’s, two girls and one boy they love this color, this color and this color.

So they, they go in and they decorated rooms.

It is amazing what they do if they gold coast based only. Yeah. And they, and they,

and they’ve housed. They’ve relocated 1400 families.

Felicity Cohen: So had a significant increase in domestic

Chris Walker: violence through COVID dislike beyond blue have seen. mental health go through the roof, alcohol and drug foundation.

I’ve seen their costs go through the roof. So what we do at what they do at fund, my challenge is they give people that confidence that when they go onto the app or go onto the web, they can see the charities that were vetted, that have made the cup. I’ve gone into every criteria and they give the people don’t donating and the donors, the confidence to know that their money that they donate is actually going to work out because I won’t mention it because it’s not a, it’s not a weird channel of other charities, but some charities, some very, very big charities.

you donate a hundred dollars, $5 goes to the cause.

Felicity Cohen: Because it’s going to fund the office, the staff and everything else before the money actually goes to the right to the, to

Chris Walker: the court for future endeavors or future. But, and then also too, if I’m a challenge, if you do a challenge and you raise a hundred thousand dollars and it goes to rise up, rise up, then have 12 months to spend that on their cause and they can’t keep it for any more than 12 months.

They’ve got. It’s good and distributed and make sure that it’s changing lives. So it’s, it’s it’s really cool, like you to, to do what I did and do my walk and raise the money that I hope we’re going to a function on Friday with the final figure of what I’m doing. I can’t wait to present those charities with checks and, and then listen to it.

Or see the knock on effect or that all the effect that it has going down to their cause and changing lives. It’s it’s amazing. It’s so good.

Felicity Cohen: I love that we did. Was it something that you thought about every day? So this walk that you’ve done, you started in Cairns. It was over 1100

Chris Walker: kilometers. Yeah. It was about 1900 kms, 1971.

so I started on the 26th of April and finished on the 2nd of July. So 71 days from start to finish and

Felicity Cohen: Did you know how long it was going to take you, by the way?

Chris Walker: We calculated. We calculated anyway, we between 66 to 68 days, and that’s walking 30 kilometers a day and having we were, we were advised that I was supposed to have four days off.

I had two days off and then coming late, just coming on the other side of Brisbane, the Southern side of Brisbane, I got stopped because we went into a three-day locked in just recently. So I ended up having the entire time four days off and then it was bumped out to 71. Yeah. But I met some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.

Felicity Cohen: Let’s start at the beginning. I’m so fascinated.

Chris Walker: Okay. How much time we got?

yeah, so I started, I started started in canes and the first three days out of Cannes, it was absolutely bucketing down with Ryan and. I got to walk with one of my close mates, Nate miles. He’s an ex rugby league player, played 32 games for Queensland and in the state of origin and absolute legend of a guy.

So I got to walk with him for 12 days. So he did the first 12 days from Cairns to Townsville because it took us 12 days. And then we had the 13th day off because 30 is unlucky for some. And just to hear more so hear him and the way that he lives his life is he’s all about time. So giving people time, not worrying about time, not being in a rush, being in the moment.

And he must’ve got into my psyche cause I’m very much here, there and everywhere. I can imagine. And now I’ve just become, even now been back for a little over three weeks, just under four weeks, and I can just sense myself just going right, I’m really content.

Felicity Cohen: Centering yourself and being present and living in the moment.

Chris Walker: That’s right, exactly.

Felicity Cohen: Very meditative. And it’s also so important for those people around you as well, that you must notice a difference at home that you’re present. When you’re there you’re present for them.

Chris Walker: Massive. And even my wife has said to me half a dozen times, like, yeah, you’ve come back different.

You come back really different then. And also to the knock on effect of walking with them. So many people in these regions and these towns and these communities will come out. I didn’t watch TV for roughly 66 days. So I wasn’t watching the news. And I wasn’t seeing what were being forced out at the moment through these media outlets that have an agenda on feeding us misinformation, and it’s been forced better down our throats.

We watched the news first 10 stories about COVID. Next five stories about doom and gloom happening in the, in the area, you know, robberies and stabbings and all that sort of stuff. I never got, I didn’t, I didn’t watch it the 66 days, but instead, when I was walking into these communities, people knew I was coming into the region and knew I was coming into the area and they were coming out and they were sharing their stories and listen, listening to what we’d been doing and the walk and the people’s lives.

It’s going to change through the foundations that I’ve chosen. So. It might sound corny, but my heart and soul was so full of love, just brimming with just awesome newness. And there was no negativity in my life. The, the the team that I had, which included my father, he drove one of the cars. So these are my support staff.

I’m a father drove the front car, then me, then Nate miles, his dad, Tony, he drove the second car and then we had to go, I will then. He drove the back cars. He was an next truck and he, so he was on the two ways to all the truck drivers, just to let us let them know that we were in the region. We’re in the area I plays beside, look out for us.

Too fast, start to find, keep awake. Like those sort of conversations where, yeah, we’re 500 meters up the road. So just watch the guys coming through and have that every, every night we’d all sit together. We’ll all have a beer or have dinner together and getting back to. Mauritania environment. I treated my team, my support team, like our, I regulate team.

Everyone knew their roles and responsibilities. No one kind of over the top of someone to do their role because that role was already looked after. So there was, it’s like a halfback would never take you hit up because that’s the front row. In a, in a rugby league team, it was like my dad, he was the one that always you know, got everything prepared for the next day, wills roles and responsibilities and making sure that all the water bottles were filled, ready to go for us.

The next day I was in ice bars. Adam Barrick tariffs. He was our project manager. He sh he made sure that my ice mods were ready for. made a jump into after every day. And then Tony, he was just there to make sure that everyone did their jobs and it was, it was just a team effort,

great collaboration and cooperation.

Unbelievable. Once you get into that, it took, took us a little while for everyone to get the roles and responsibilities. But once we all clicked into that team environment, then it might more war, which I did 30 kilometers every day. Was the mat max, or you go as much as I want, but limit the least I could do was 30 kilometers, which roughly took me about five and a half hours to do each day.

But to have those guys there looking after me making sure that I was safe, just put another aspect into how awesome the walk was.

Did you start walking during night hours or do you mean like headlamps or?

The rules were through the government and the police, because we had to get our licenses to go through and our permits to go through.

We couldn’t walk darks on, so. Early in the morning, nighttime in the afternoon, we couldn’t walk. So we would set sail and it would set up we’d be up at 5, 5 30, wait for the sun to come through them and start walking. And

because we had the support vehicles we would drive back to. So if we said we walked 30 Ks would pick a destination or a landmark, whether it be a street, a road stopping by a truck, stop a survey, and then we’d stop there in the cars back to camp.

Recovery sleep next day, come back to where we finished the day before and then go 30 Ks. Can we do that for 71 days. That is

incredible. What was for you? What was the most challenging moment during those 71 days? You must have had occasional moments where you said, oh my God, not another day. How did you do with that?

I think the hardest part of my day every day was the first two minutes I opened my eyes. That was the hardest part. I’d be my eyes. And in two minutes, the thought of righto. And was it. Right. And today’s Monday Dave week for today’s Friday week five. It was Ryder. Today is week nine day nine day 13 day 20, whatever day it was, it was just the day.

How many days I had, how many days are they going for? And how many days that, that was the first two minutes right now I’m a day 37. I’ve got 27, 25 days a year or whatever the, whatever it is. So that was the hardest part. Getting into my head that I had gone that long and then how many days I’d left. And once you calculate it, accept it and you go, right, I’ve got to do it. Because no one else is going to do the walk for me. This is my walk. It’s not the Gary Walker walk. It’s the Chris Walker walk. I couldn’t have anyone else substitute, so I would just get up and I’ll do it. And then once I, once I walk out of my room, if we’re staying at a pub or staying at the caravan park or staying in my caravan, once I walked out in the fresh air and I seen the team say my team.

Getting them self prepared. I was like, right. There’s my team let’s go. And it was just a thing that I had to do. And once you got in, once I got into my head, that’s what I had to do. The first team minutes was done and dusted, and then it become right. I, how cool is this? And people will come and join me.

It was the amount of people that would find out where I was getting contact with me through social media, that I had no idea who they were. I’ve never met them before. And so right. Are you coming into this town? We live here and we’re inviting you and your team over to our place for a barbecue or a home cooked meal.

I think that happened about probably 15 times, 12 to 15 times. And that was, and then we’d have people that I’d meet that night. So what time are you leaving tomorrow? And they’d come and join me. And it’s amazing because. The excitement and the feeling that you get of, of freedom. When you’re walking along the highway highway, you can’t explain it to people.

And the night before I’d be saying, Ronnie, come and join us for the 30 cars. This is the best thing you can do. And they’d look at you a little bit, like how, how enjoyable can walking along on a highway day, but within the first two to three Ks, they’ll look at me and go, this is. Because you’re, you’re saying every part of Queensland landscape.

So when you drive that road, you’d see one mountain and one tree. But when you walk, you see every mountain and every tree and you’ll see waterfalls and you’ll see creeks and you see it is for your brain and for your mind, and for your mindset is probably one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Felicity Cohen: Incredible. And I think that kind of restores our belief in, you know, the human spirit and the general generosity of people.

Chris Walker: 100%, like, yeah, like we get, I keep on going back to, we get, keep on getting fed while we’re being fed in the last 18 months with COVID it’s negative. My mother didn’t leave the unit for four months when COVID came.

My mind is saying it’s like her mental state went from positive as to right down and then dad had, he didn’t worry about COVID. He had played golf and he was really happy. He stayed at where he stayed at. But mum’s mindset and mental awareness and mental wellbeing fuel by fears.

Felicity Cohen: Cue by fear

Chris Walker: fueled by fear.

We didn’t, who could be at COVID for 12 58, 68 days 66.

Felicity Cohen: Incredible. I think I read somewhere that one of the things that inspired you to take this challenge on board for yourself was also because you had a friend who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Chris Walker: Yeah. Yeah. Big Charlie. I’m 41 years of age.

He’s 40 years of age. We played we debuted it together for Queensland and the work was supposed to be for the COVID foundation, but what happened? His foundation, wasn’t a DGR registered charity. So we. I couldn’t make any the constitution of Fund my challenge couldn’t be put on, but then, then once I got started with, when we did some fundraisers in town through the global awakening, which is a benevolent fund, it can then donate money and, and whatnot to, to the car with foundation.

So, yeah, big Charlie Webb unfortunately was diagnosed with motor neurons disease some time ago. So he’s in, he’s in a battle of his own. And you know, I, I drew, I honestly drew some stuff. On some of those times when I was walking down the Bruce highway and there was nothing there, you know, odd often thinking about Carl and I was thinking about our friendship and our drew strength on what he’s going through because there were times when I felt down, but what else?

I know what calls going through. And it’s very sad to see him being an absolute beast of a rugby league player. I’m in a fight free. That he’s in at the moment is yeah, it’s not, it’s not the most satisfying the thing to think about and

Felicity Cohen: horrible, but it makes us, I guess, aware and grateful for having, for being able bodied number one, and to have the capacity and the ability to do it.

The only thing stopping you ever is, is your mindset. And when you’ve got that whole positive mindset and the strength of all those other people around you you know, you learn anything’s possible.

Chris Walker: Anything’s possible. And I learned. Walking from Cannes to gold coast, I can do. And you know, to see Carly yeah, there’s certain areas of his body that are shutting down through this awful, awful disease.

To be quite honest with you. I didn’t really know too much about up until when, when he was diagnosed and he’s still very sharp in the mind. He’s he’s, you know, that, that. That that for me talking to him on the phone and catching up with him to see where he’s at is very sad for me, because I’ve always thought of Carl, Weber’s this monster of a man, the destroyed rugby league teams just on his time back.

And, and, you know, he was a joint, he was a giant in the game. And I’ve written on, I’ve written on his back a couple of times. And yeah, just to see what he’s going through is not, is not closing. It’s not nice. And it makes me.

Felicity Cohen: I can only imagine. Congratulations on the walk. I think it’s just absolutely incredible.

And I love all of the charities that you’ve chosen are just so worthy. And incipients of your successful funding, you know, just amazing. And I think highlighted by, they’ve all become so much more prominent in terms of their need factor over the last 12 months. So you’ve chosen so well.

Chris Walker: And that’s what we tried. Like obviously we couldn’t do a . We’ve had to reassess where we wanted to promote this walk and promote the charities that over the last 18 months have been really, really hard. Like their cause has increased, I think the alcohol and drug foundation I’ve seen a 400% increase in alcohol sales online.

A 90% rise in calls for mental health and obviously the domestic violence spaces going through the roof. So if we can help one family or one person get their selves back on track, well then, my walk, it’s not only about raising money for those organisations. Yes, that’s great. But the awareness that we have that I’ve put on those charities, I know that everyone knows Beyond Blue because it’s right out there, but alcohol and drug foundation and Rise Up and the Global Awakening. That recognition and that awareness people now have been able to go to them and say, right, we’ve seen what Chris done. And, you know, we wanna, you know, I’m having troubles with, you know, someone at home that we need to address. Or, you know, I know someone who’s falling into the trouble with alcohol and drugs over the last 18 months,

thank you very much for giving us that. Yeah, that yeah, that awareness.

Felicity Cohen: I think that’s amazing. And I hope it also has another ongoing domino effect of others who see the need to get behind raising funds for charities as well. So you’ve been back for just over three weeks. Are you feeling recovered and your body’s feeling good? How are your feet?

Chris Walker: Yeah, they’re not too bad. They’re coming alright.

Felicity Cohen: How many toenails did you lose?

Chris Walker: I lost three toenails

I did a walk on Saturday. I started at 2.30 in the afternoon and walk for 24 hours. And I was doing that for White Cloud, another awesome organisation in the mental health space. And I walked for 24 hours and walks around a hundread and one, hundred and two kilometers. So my body hadn’t fully recovered and I probably took on that challenge way too close to my finished date from the Cairns walk. And I fell apart, I think at about six hours, seven hours to go. And I ring my wife and I told her to come pick me up because I couldn’t complete the challenge. I ended up completing the challenge because she laughed at me and told me not to be so silly.

And she said, listen, she said knuckle down. Knuckle down you’ve got six and a half hours to go, knuckle down. It’s all that mental toughness now, which I’m always putting updates on my social media. And this is another thing about human, the human race that I’ve noticed, especially over the last three and a half months since I started my walk is there are a lot of good people out there that give encouragement and it’s amazing.

When I would see someone do something on the side of the ride, that was a challenge. You give him a beep and you probably wouldn’t think too much of it. But what I realised is every beep that I had, or every donation that come and stopped on the side of the road, or every words of encouraged on the side of the road, it’s seriously picked me up for Ks.

Like, and I would get beeps and I’ll get people talking to me all the way through and they probably didn’t think much of it. Or they probably would drive 10 Ks down the road or 50 Ks, or got back to their destination, wherever it was and had no a second thought of it. But when I was walking, having the encouragement that people were giving to me on the side of the road, it honestly gave you a spring in the step.

For every beep. I’d say two Ks. When you just feel good and you go right on, I’ve got a purpose now. And when I was struggling on the weekend, I’ll put out on social media that I didn’t think I could get through it. Because in my mind, 18 hours, seven and a half hours into this walk where I continuously walked. And people were reaching out to me on social media was saying, you can do it and all they’re saying, we’re behind you, you know, we’ve followed your journey, keep on going.

You know, you’re doing it for a lot of people. It’s amazing how much of a mindset that gets into your mindset and you go right on, I can’t quit or I can’t follow because there are actually people that I’d forgot about that are reaching out and saying, listen, do it for these people, do it. You know, you keep on going, you can, you got this, be strong or something about that. Just words of encouragement that then get you going.

And I know there’s a lot of negativity in life, but sometimes you just gotta block that out and you just gotta feed off the positive that’s coming your way.

Felicity Cohen: I love that. And I think, you know, the key word there for me out of that little response was purpose.

You know, keeping close to your purpose and reminding yourself of that vision. If you’ve got purpose, then you’ve always got something to get out of bed for. You’ve always got something to keep striving forward, to keep working towards. But it’s amazing that those positive words of encouragement, it’s how we should be treating each other and empowering each other on a daily basis.

And maybe we forget to maybe give each other compliments or those words of advice that can change someone’s day.

Chris Walker: It’s the way you’re brought up. Getting back to my childhood, I was brought up that my mum and dad used to always tell me they love me and they were proud of me. So my wife and I, we do exactly the same thing with my kids.

We always tell our kids how proud we are of them and you know, who they are and what they are. And we always, I always ask my kids if they’re happy or sad or what’s going on in their life. And they’re only 10 and they’re only 10 or turning 10 between the turning 11, and 13, my oldest. It only takes two seconds to say I’m proud of you and you see their lungs fill up. You see their chests poked forward and you see the eyes light up and go, you know what? My dad’s proud of me or my mom’s proud of me. Just little things like that. It’s so important and it’s so easy to do.

Felicity Cohen: It’s actually the most important.

Chris Walker: It is most important.

Felicity Cohen: Something you can do every day for your kids, a hundred percent. You’re an incredible role model for them.

Chris Walker: And so many people don’t do it. And all it takes, it takes three seconds to say, I’m proud of you. And then give them a cuddle. And even though they, my kids are at the age where they don’t want to cuddle, but you still give them one. And like I said, you can see their lungs fill up. You can see their eyes widen and they get a little bit of a peacock about them. So it’s good. And you know, Courtney, my wife, she loves doing it as well, so, well, I’m very proud of the kids.

Felicity Cohen: So what’s next on the agenda for fund my challenge. If you’ve got the next vision, the next plan, if you had any thoughts around that yet?

Chris Walker: me personally, I’m seriously thinking about walking from the gold coast to Melbourne next year. the following year from Melbourne to Adelaide, and then eventually over five-year period, say that I’ve walked around in Australia, but moving forward with fund one challenge. We’re partnered up with with a lot of corporates that, that do a lot of good in the space of, of giving and, and looking out for charities.

we’ve got corporate fighter they’ve come on board with working with those guys on how best to provide charities with money that they raised. we’ve got incredible ambassadors, Lincoln Lewis, Joel Parkinson Chris Lynn. We’ve got all these sports stars, celebrities that, that. To give in the space of, of charity and help promote other people’s challenges and a challenge.

And I said, it’s one of my challenge, but a challenge can be, you know, you know, a kid is going through chemo, that’s their challenge. And you want to create awareness and you want to create some funds for their family that needed we had the brown stuff. They did a 24 hour bike challenge on Friday.

They raised, I think, upwards of a hundred thousand dollars for one of their, one of their mates who has brain cancer and is in Germany that needs his treatment. so there’s some really good things. moving forward, there’s chat there’s challenges on the, on the app currently. For people to you know, test who works in the office.

She’s she’s type one diabetes, and she’s done a challenge for the Taiwan diabetes and raise a thousand dollars for, for her course.So. There’s there’s some world changes out there that want to do good. So it’s, it’s it’s a space that I wish that I was a part of when I was 18 years of age, instead of being 39 40.

Felicity Cohen: Oh. These things happen at the right time for the right reason, you know, and every step you take is so valuable and what you’re doing with every single step is just phenomenal. Yeah. I’m totally in all. I think it’s incredible. I love it. So I’m not going to complain about walk to work. The 3rd of September, I prefer to run because it’s faster.

but you know, yeah, walking’s great. And it’s so good for you. And there’s so many benefits, you know walking in general and just even promoting that the health benefits of being active, which is always something I’m promoting to patients. So I love that side of it as well. Yeah,

it’s a, it is a good space and I live on probably 40 K’s from work.

So. On a thing it’d be worth walking in the hallway to work

crash. I will, I will. I wanted to change the office to belly that’s about 10 guys away. So

we’ll see that sounds okay. It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you today, and I hope we get to do this again, cause I know there’s going to be a lot more to talk about in the future. Yeah,

definitely. I’m I’m I’m open to come in here.

I love talking as you can tell, so yeah. So if there is anyone out there that wants to jump on. And dynamite to be involved with one, one challenge. It’s a, it’s a really good little platform at the moment. We

definitely make sure that we promote that link and that everybody can access it for you.

I have one final question. and this is something I like to ask all of the guests who come on the wellness warriors podcast. What does wellness mean to you ?

Chris Walker: And question what role does for me is happiness. I think happiness within yourself, because then that resonates on other people. If you’re happy, your, your mood infects people around you, and if you’re happy and you’re vibrant then generally I think that your wellness you’re in the right path for healthy, happy wellness.

and I think it all collides into, into one yeah, wellness. It’s those things to me, it’s, it’s about being infectious with your, with your attitude and being upbeat and and happy.

Felicity Cohen: Amazing, Chris, thank you so much for joining me. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for joining the wellness warriors podcast.

It’s been a pleasure to have you online with us. If you enjoyed the series, please leave your review, subscribe and follow it. And we look forward to sharing many more stories with you in the future.

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