Front row from the left – Robert de Castella AO MBE; the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd); Lady Cosgrove; Adrian Dodson-Shaw. Middle row – Sianna Catullo; Taneshia Atkinson; Kate Axten; Narrinda Dempsey; Jordyn Merritt; Emily Broderick. Back row – Jordon Armstrong; Travis Naden; Shane Cook; Keifer Yu; Neil Sabatino; Tyrone Bean.
Following the stories of the IMP graduates since his uncle, Charlie Maher, was the first Indigenous man to cross the finish line at the New York City Marathon, Western Arrernte man Jordan is excited to be able to follow in his footsteps. “Their stories have inspired me,” Jordan says. “I want to do something for my family and my community; this is a dream come true.” Jordan currently lives in Alice Springs with his wife and they are expecting their first baby in October.
Raised in Kingscliff in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, Yorta Yorta and Bangerang woman Taneshia has moved around for schooling and work and has recently moved to Brisbane. She is passionate about being an inspirational role model for young Indigenous children, and has worked with the Gold Coast Titans, the National Indigenous Youth Parliament and the Brisbane Broncos. “A big part of why I’m doing this is to be the role model I didn’t have growing up,” she says. This will be Taneshia’s first overseas trip.
A Western Arrernte woman from Central Australia, Kate was born in Canberra but moved to Alice Springs as an infant. “I know a few of the IMP graduates from here and it kind of got to the point where it was try out now or miss the opportunity,” she says. Kate is a trained and qualified teacher and has two full-time foster children who she looks after.
With Kabi Kabi, Wakka Wakka and Bindal heritage, Tyrone is passionate about sharing and celebrating Indigenous culture with Indigenous children, through his role as a teacher at Trinity Grammar School in Melbourne. A keen footballer, Tyrone had to give up his AFL dream after a number of injuries prevented him from continuing. He now teaches young children that success is whatever they want it to be. “Success for me will be being able to get back up after years of surgeries and setbacks to run a major marathon,” he says.
Noongar woman and high school Indigenous Program Coordinator Emily tried out for IMP last year because she wanted to do something that pushed her out of her comfort zone. This year, she wants to be a part of the squad because she has seen the ripple effects last year’s Perth graduates made. “The marathon is the bit that you can probably hold onto and remember for yourself, but the support and skills learnt can be taken back to community for the ripple effect it can create,” she says.
Working in community with Spark Health has given Narungga woman Sianna a passion for promoting healthy lifestyles across Indigenous Australia. “I believe IMP can challenge me and teach me new things about myself whilst still staying grounded and emerged in community,” she says. This year will be a big year for Sianna, as she is also in the final year of her Bachelor in Health Science.
Born and raised in Adelaide, artist and youth mentor Shane is hoping to take himself out of his comfort zone and challenge himself with something he has always struggled with. “Being a youth mentor, I spend lots of time with young people and I want to lead by example and remind myself that with hard work, anything can be achieved.” He credits a strong Aboriginal youth worker who mentored him as a young man to get him through a difficult time and back on track with his journey.
A proud Kalkadoon woman, Narrinda was very shocked to find out she’d made the squad. Mother to three young daughters, she had joined a gym nearly three years ago to do something for herself, lose some extra weight and be a good role model for her girls. “I need to show them that anything is possible if you knuckle down and work hard,” she says. Narrinda has never been overseas before, so to run the New York City Marathon is the opportunity of a lifetime.
When Yamatji woman and mother of three Jordyn felt the swell of emotion as she watched the 2017 IMP squad cross the finish line at the New York City Marathon, she knew it was a change she needed in her life. She joined the Karratha Deadly Runners and has focused on getting fit and healthy for herself, her children and the children she teaches as an Aboriginal Islander Education Officer in Roebourne. “Educating our children on health and fitness is extremely important because they are our future leaders,” she says. “For me, it’s important to bring back home what I’ve learnt to my community.”
Born and raised in Canberra, Wiradjuri man Travis saw the Running to America documentary on TV nearly 10 years ago and has been aspiring to be a member of the squad ever since. This is the seventh year trying out for IMP. “It’s really great to see positive stories in the media about Indigenous people and if I can be a part of that and inspire just one person, then it’s all worth it,” he says. Travis is about to enter his third year as an apprentice electrician
Torres Strait Islander Neil made the squad last year but had to pull out due to an injury. “It was one of those things I couldn’t control,” he says. “It’s taken me a year to get back to this point, but I’m really happy to be here, and I think I’m wiser from the experience.” Neil was born in Cairns and grew up on Hammond Island and Thursday Island in Queensland, but he now lives in Melbourne where he’s completing his Bachelor of Education and working with Indigenous children.
Yawuru man Keifer has just moved home to Broome with his partner and new baby daughter after 10 years in Perth as a semi-professional footballer in the West Australian Football League. “I’ve been trying to find a new passion,” he says. “I’ve been following the IMP for a while, but have never been able to apply because of my football commitments. I’ve watched the amazing journey other Broome graduates have gone on, and I’m excited to go on my own.”