Meet Louise Davidson, co-founder of the Mother's Day Classic

Just recently, we had the absolute privilege of interviewing Louise Davidson, co-founder of the Mother's Day Classic Walk-Run for breast cancer research. We thought it was perfect timing to spread the word about this event coming up on Sunday May 10, which will be held in more than 100 locations around Australia.

To register or donate and for more information about the event, go here.

Hi Louise, thanks so much for chatting with us today! You are a hero in our eyes. So we would love you to tell our readers a little about yourself and how the amazing Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic Walk-Run for breast cancer research came about. 

A friend and colleague of mine, Mavis Robertson, was travelling overseas and saw a similar event.  She came back and spoke to me about it. My own mother had recently died from breast cancer at the age of 52, so I was acutely aware of the devastating impact of the disease.  In those days, the survival rate was not nearly as high as it is now. Working with women in the superannuation industry, we started the event in 1998 in Melbourne and Sydney.  That first year about 3000 people came. Now we hold the event in every Capital city and over 100 regional centres and over 130,000 people come! 

So obviously your own personal journey has and continues to motivate you in all you do, but what else contributes to your ambitious drive?

Over the years I have met and become friends with so many amazing women effected by breast cancer, and their families. When you witness the human side to the disease – the little girl who had her first day of school without her mum for example – it is impossible not to be ambitious about finding a cure. 

I love the fact that you worked as a volunteer event manager while bringing up your beautiful daughters, and even today you continue to inspire an enormous group of volunteers to make these Mother’s Day Classic events happen. What is the key to getting people to believe in, share and give up their time for this dream?

To be honest, so many people are impacted by breast cancer that there are a  huge number of willing volunteers. But I think people also really love being involved with a community event – it’s an opportunity to make a contribution and at the same time have a sense of connection.

What has been the hardest lesson to learn, as a pioneer, business woman and (most importantly) mum?

There is never enough time to do everything as well as I’d like to do it, so prioritising becomes very important. And with three teenage daughters, I’ve had to learn to live with a house that’s a bit messier than I’d like! 

What has been the greatest reward?

I feel very proud of the amount of money we have raised, and the research we have funded. Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer myself and became the beneficiary of our research program, through the advanced treatment offered to me because of research  – instead of having all the lymph nodes under my arm removed I had a much less invasive procedure called a ‘sentinel node biopsy’. This vastly reduces recovery time and risk of lymphoedema (swelling and discomfort of the arm). 

Sorry to hear you have been diagnosed. You have had to face this disease (like so many women) in more ways than one. I am sure that motivates you to keep fighting and raising funds, and it is amazing to hear it really does make a difference! What is your fundraising goal for the Mother’s Day Classic Walk-Run this year?

I hope we will raise another $5 million for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.  

What do you do to relax and take time away from the craziness of life?

I love cooking, so I really enjoy having friends and family around for dinner. I also have the travel bug pretty seriously – the list of places I want to visit just keeps getting longer!

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

Strong women who are not afraid to speak out and stand up for what they believe.  Rosie Batty is a particular source of inspiration. I met Rosie when she was named Victorian of the Year, as a nominee for Australian of the Year 2015, and I was privileged to be named Victoria’s nominee for the Australian of the Year 2015 Local Hero award.

Are you reading any books?

I have a huge pile of partially read books beside my bed. The only time I seem to read books these days is on holiday.  Recent favourites include ‘Being Mortal’ by Atul Gawande and ‘Flash Boys’ by Michael Lewis (both non-fiction). 

If you could give our readers one piece of advice about personal struggles and turning them into something positive, what would you tell them? How can they too turn their hardships into an incredible message of hope?

Get together a group of likeminded women and everything will seem easier! Or if not easier, at least more fun!

Can you tell us about your role as a mum? What sort of things help you keep everything in balance, and can you give us your top 3 keys in raising brave, grounded, love-filled daughters?

Like all parents, I can only hope I’m doing a good job as a mum! I feel very proud of my daughters as they get older – they are growing into such fabulous young women. I try to be available to them just to hang out, and we always eat dinner together around the table and talk about the day. And I trust them – I think it’s really important for kids to feel trusted.

Describe your life in three words:

Busy, interesting, meaningful. 

Chocolate, strawberry, vanilla or caramel?

Salted caramel… 

What’s this year look like for Louise Davidson?

It looks suddenly really really busy – I’m trying to be disciplined and not take on too much…Having been diagnosed with breast cancer last year, I’m also very conscious of making time to enjoy life with my kids, my partner and my friends. And of course I know exactly what I’ll be doing on Sunday May 10 – participating in the 18th Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic.

Thank you so much for your time and sharing with our readers a little more about yourself and the Mother's Day Classic.

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