By Tim Saunders on
Olivia Newton-John is to lead a team of stars from sports and showbiz, as well as cancer survivors, on a 21-day extreme challenge to trek the entire length of the Great Wall of China.
The 59-year-old star and breast cancer survivor will be joined on the trip by stars such as Sir Cliff Richard, Leeza Gibbons, Jimmy Barnes, Joan Rivers, Dannii Minogue, members of rockband INXS, and many more as they trek along the landmark to raise money for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre being built in Australia.
“They say the longest journey starts with the first step,” said the singer. “Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago I have taken many steps on my cancer journey. In recent times, the journey has been working with wonderful people to build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre. Now, I’m taking one more step on that journey – all in the fight against cancer!”
The journey of “a million steps” will symbolize the physical and emotional journey of cancer patients. The event aims to gather $1 for each step taken along the Wall.
“People are asking me why do you want to walk 200 kilometers along the Great Wall of China, up 40 degree gradients, across mountain ranges and through dust storms of the Gobi Desert,” the singer said on her website. “The answer is that this journey – this million steps towards the cure for cancer – started for me 15 years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That life-changing experience has given me some true understanding and compassion for others walking that path – and I want to help. That’s why I am so excited to be leading this walk on the Great Wall to raise money and awareness for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre – these 21 days on the Wall will be another part of my own journey.”
Newton-John was born in Cambridge, England, in 1948, but moved to Australia when she was five. A talented singer from a young age and passionate about music, she released her first solo album in 1971, and in 1974 represented the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest. A long list of hits, including I Honestly Love You and Let Me Be There, led to her being cast as Sandy in the film version of Grease in 1978.
The early 1980s were phenomenal years for the young star, and she had a string of hits including Xanadu, Let’s Get Physical, and Suddenly (with Cliff Richard). But in 1992, on the eve of a world tour, Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the start of a long battle for the Grammy Award winning artist, but she eventually overcame the disease and returned to music. She also devoted herself to helping other cancer sufferers, and plans to build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre, which will provide complementary therapies to support patients on their cancer journey, treating mind and spirit as well as the body. The Wellness Centre is Olivia’s special passion, with a focus on the whole person and not just the disease. Cancer patients worldwide will benefit from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre’s dedicated research facilities and clinical trials, with the development of future cancer vaccines and therapies through the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, headquartered in New York.
Newton-John is also an ambassador to the United Nations Environmental Program, and served as a spokesperson for the Children’s Health Environ-Mental Coalition (CHEC) for 10 years. She spends large amounts of time supporting organizations such as the Red Cross, the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Rainforest Alliance, and Concept Cure. She also became well-known for promoting the Olivia Breast Self-Exam Kit.
More information about the Great Walk To Beijing can be found at www.greatwalktobeijing.com.
“The walk will be difficult and confronting – like life, there will be many ups and downs and unforseen challenges,” said the singer. “Every step we take will offer hope and strength to individuals facing cancer. It will be wonderful to have so many of my friends from the worlds of show business and sport walking with me. What might surprise you is how they too have been personally touched by cancer, and how each have their own story to tell. I will be walking for the friends I have lost and for all the many others still stepping.”
Copyright © 2008 Look to the Stars