Celebrating 20 years of the Mother’s Day Classic

Cate Wood

By

18/04/2017

From modest beginnings as a walk in the park, it has grown into a major national community event. In 2017, we mark the 20th year of the Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic and all we have achieved throughout the journey.

The Mother’s Day Classic was the brainchild of superannuation pioneer Mavis Robertson. It was established in 1998, after Robertson saw a similar event overseas.

Three years earlier, Australian Council of Superannuation Investors chief executive Louise Davidson had lost her mother to breast cancer at the age of 52. Davidson had cared for her mother through a two-year battle with the disease. When Robertson spoke about the event and raising money for breast cancer research, Davidson knew that Women in Super (WIS) could make the idea a reality.

A WIS volunteer committee was established in Melbourne and Sydney and the first event took place in both cities in 1998. So began a yearly tradition that has raised more than $30 million to date to fund research for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

A nationwide event

Six years after the classic began, other capital cities started joining in. Then WIS volunteers established more Mother’s Day Classic committees, driven by people working in the superannuation industry.

Today, the committees work tirelessly year-round to organise and promote the event and they remain closely linked to the superannuation industry.

Committee chairs Thomay Gatis, from NGS Super (2004, Adelaide), and Sue Field, from AvSuper (Canberra, 2007), have served on their committees from day one. Many others from the industry also chair committees: Catholic Super’s Loretta Drago in Melbourne and Hostplus account manager Elishia Gauld in Gold Coast, to name two.

Long-term sponsors such as the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees and ME Bank are also pivotal to our success, along with our many fund and industry sponsors. Groups like Team Cbus, Team HESTA and Team PwC work hard at fund raising and show up in numbers at every function.

The super industry continues to be the backbone of our event. The Mother’s Day Classic is probably the only place you can find CareSuper chief executive Julie Lander in public in her pink fluffy slippers, ME Bank chief executive Jamie McPhee in a pink spikey wig, and Cbus Super chief executive David Atkin wearing a pink feather boa.

Still more goals to achieve

As chair of WIS, I’m proud to say that more than 1.1 million people have walked and run more than 6.5 million kilometres as part of the Mother’s Day Classic. That’s from here to the moon and back eight times. However, there is still more work to do.

The five-year survival rate for someone with breast cancer is now 90 per cent. However, for those with advanced cancer, the survival rate is only 22 per cent. So we need to fund more research in this space. This costs money that the Mother’s Day Classic can help raise.

In 2016, Women in Super established the Mother’s Day Classic Foundation, bringing together a board of talented women from the industry to nurture and govern the event into the future.

We are extremely privileged to be the organiser of the Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic, a truly community event where, year after year, so many women, men and children come together to walk or run, in all weather conditions, with the aim of raising critical funds for breast cancer research.

In 2017, the Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic will be on Sunday, May 14, nationwide. To find an event near you or to volunteer for future events, visit www.mothersdayclassic.com.au

We invite you to join in. After all, you never know whom you might see.

Cate Wood was the founding chair of the Mother’s Day Classic. She is currently the chair of Women in Super and CareSuper.