8 Oct 2021 Community
Koletka walks 162km in Spain in memory of her mum and raises vital funds for The Kirkwood
Koletka Pukacz recently walked the Camino De Santiago in Spain in memory of her mum and raised over £2,500 for The Kirkwood.
Koletka has dreamt of completing the trek for a number of years and finally achieved her goal when she completed the 150km walk back in July.
Koletka was inspired to attempt the walk to raise vital funds for The Kirkwood after our team looked after her mum in the In-Patient Unit in 2019. Teresa Pukacz was cared for five days in the unit before dying from pancreatic cancer.
Koletka said: "I think The Kirkwood is a home from home, with the right help. When I first heard the word ‘hospice’ it scared me a little bit, but there is nothing to be scared of.
"My sister did the walk 12 years ago and for the last eight years I have wanted to do it myself whilst visiting my sister who lives out there. I just never got around to doing it. My mum wanted to do it a few times too, she sadly broke her leg before getting out there for her first attempt and then she was going to do it before my sister's wedding, however that's when my mum started to get ill and so couldn't manage to do it."
The whole walk took a week to complete and the route was 162km long. Koletka felt physically and emotionally drained by the end of the exhausting walk.
She said: "I wanted to raise £1,500 for doing 150km but I've raised over £2,500 which is just amazing. I am shocked and overwhelmed with it all.
"I started in the morning and you'd get to the next place by mid-afternoon. By the third day I was hurting physically it was very tiring. I just had to keep going, and when I got to the end I was emotional, I was very proud I did it.
"For the last two kilometres I just shuffled along. In the middle of the walk I managed to watch the Euros which was nice.
"You get a certificate for completing over 100km. I actually did 162km starting in O'Cebreiro which is a little village in Spain. I finished in Santiago.
"When I did make it to the end of my walk I made it in time to go to the Pilgrim mass at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral where I lit a candle for my mum."
On top of the physical and mental challenge of taking on such an intense challenge, Koletka felt an extra weight of emotion during her walk because of a very special item she carried the entire length of her journey.
She said: "There is a traditional thing that you do on your pilgrimage and that is to take a shell. I took one for me and one for my mum in my backpack so she was there with me."
Teresa was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018, and Koltka saw how The Kirkwood cared for her mum over the next year. The 29-year-old remains appreciative of how The Kirkwood cared for her mum.
She said: "My mum went in for the last five days of her life. She was already having treatment from The Kirkwood and we used to go there for coffee mornings, so we knew people there very well.
"My mum didn't want to die in hospital; she wanted to be somewhere she knew and was comfortable in. She was comfortable at The Kirkwood. Everyone there was just magnificent, nothing was ever too much."
If you would like to still donate to Koltka's challenge you can visit her JustGiving page HERE.
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