Carrying the baton: ‘This is a once in a lifetime opportunity’

As the 2018 Winter Olympics torch was lit in Greece, three local residents are preparing to run with the Queen’s Baton ahead of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year.

Bermagui’s Kate Butterfield, Merimbula’s Lynne Koerbin, Pambula’s Dane Waites and Eden’s Helen Hillier will all run with the baton in Batemans Bay during the 100-day countdown to the games in April.

Ms Koerbin, who is well-known across the region for her work as president of Community Carers Accommodation South East, was nominated for her dedication to the Sapphire Coast Hockey league.

She heard the news she would be involved while visiting her daughter in Wilpena Pound, north of Adelaide.

“I’m pretty stoked, it’s just a great honour,” Ms Koerbin said after hearing the news.

“I never dreamed anybody would nominate me.

Kate Butterfield is a former police officer with post traumatic stress disorder, who started the Run Brave initiative. Photo from Facebook with permission

Kate Butterfield is a former police officer with post traumatic stress disorder, who started the Run Brave initiative. Photo from Facebook with permission

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it will be with me forever.”

Ms Koerbin still plays hockey, and said she enjoys the team environment of the game.

“I watch them at the Olympics wishing I was as good as them,” she said with a laugh.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme worker spent time with Mr Waites during his recent 4000 kilometre trans-Australian run in aid of mental health and autism awareness.

She said the opportunity to possibly pass the baton to Mr Waites would be “absolutely spectacular”.

The three time masters level hockey representative for the ACT team is excited to watch the games on home soil, and remembers watching the 2000 Sydney Olypmics torch as it came through the Bega Valley.

Dane Waites arrives home on September 30 to a rapturous welcome after running the 4000km from Perth to Pambula over three months. Picture: Denise Dion

Dane Waites arrives home on September 30 to a rapturous welcome after running the 4000km from Perth to Pambula over three months. Picture: Denise Dion

“We were so excited, our daughter were so young then,” she said.

“I remember the buzz and the feeling of being part of something much bigger.

“It will be good to see the Bega Valley represented again.”

Ms Butterfield is a former police officer with post traumatic stress disorder, who started the Run Brave initiative to raise awareness of the benefits of running for those struggling with mental health issues. 

She has created a fun, supportive and encouraging environment for people of all fitness levels to complete a five kilometre event across Australia in 2016, raising $1,853 for Lifeline. 

The Queen’s Baton will arrive in Australia on December 24, and will travel through every state and territory before arriving on the Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on April 4.