Stephanie Stefanovic

In early November, North Shore local Annalisa Holmes and friend Johanna Baker-Dowdell of Launceston completed a four-day trek through the Peruvian Andes, in order to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. The pair managed to raise more than $10 000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), which is intended to help the charity reach its goal of zero breast cancer deaths by 2030.

Along with 12 other women from around Australia, the two friends followed the Lares trail through remote Peruvian villages up to 4450m in elevation, concluding their trek in Machu Picchu.

Between them, Annalisa and Johanna managed to raise more than $10 000 for the NBCF through a combination of donations and fundraising events such as cupcake drives, themed lunches, raffles, auctions, t-shirts and a movie night.

“We hit our target of $10 000 the day before we set off on our trek through the Andes, which spurred us on even more,” said Annalisa.

In order to prepare herself for the trek, Annalisa underwent eight months-worth of training.
Working with sponsors JCPT Fitness (North Sydney) and Gillian Adams Salon and Spa (Turramurra), she participated in weekly hydrotherapy sessions and one-on-one preparation for the trek and its altitude. She also made sure to complete regular stretching, walking and physical therapy sessions.

Still recovering both physically and emotionally from her double mastectomy in 2013 however, the 44 year-old mother-of-two had to overcome more obstacles than just the terrain and altitude of the Andes.

“The trek was a challenge both physically and mentally, but the knowledge that we were reaching the top of the Andes together and raising money for breast cancer research made every step that much easier,” she said.

“Participating in this trek pushed both of us outside our comfort zones and it made us realise what we could achieve individually but, more importantly, what happens when a dedicated group pools resources. Our [entire] team had raised more than $70 000 by the time we had returned last week,” said Johanna last month.

The idea for the Machu Picchu trek came from Inspired Adventures, an organisation that has been working with the NBCF to generate ideas for fundraising and adventures.

“Knowing how supporters love to conquer iconic challenges, Machu Picchu as one of the seven wonders of the world was an obvious choice. My trekking buddy and fundraiser Johanna had always dreamt of going to Machu Picchu, so we pretty much talked each other into it and spent six months fundraising the whole trip and all expenses whilst raising over $10 000 (between us) for the NBCF,” said Annalisa.

As well as owning her own small business, Annalisa works in the head office of the NBCF’s corporate partnerships team, after having served as a volunteer for the foundation. Much of the NBCF’s contribution to scientific research relies on corporate partnerships and community fundraising, which highlights the importance of events such as the 2015 Peru trek.

To see how much Annalisa and Johanna raised for the NBCF (or to make a donation), visit ‘Trek Towards a Cure: Peru 2015’ on