Next Saturday, on Remembrance Day, Canungra resident Maranda Milham and her 12-year-old son James will set off on a gruelling 20km hike through the Canungra Army Barracks in honour of her late husband Stephen Milham. Stephen was on active duty at Canungra as a RAAF Squadron Leader before tragically passing on November 8th of last year, serving in the Australian Defence Force for over 20 years. The 20km trek is one of four courses in the Kokoda Legacy event being held next weekend to raise funds for Kokoda Youth Foundation and Gold Coast Legacy who support families like the Milham’s who lost a loved one while serving our country.
“They’ve been magnificent,” said Maranda when asked how Gold Coast Legacy have supported her and her son following Stephen’s passing. “They’ve paid for schooling and counselling. There’s a Legatee who keeps in regular contact with me, to make sure that I’m doing okay and if there’s anything they can help me with”.
While Kokoda Legacy was set to be a one-off event in 2022 to honour the 80th anniversary of the 1942 Kokoda Campaign, the decision to resurrect the event in 2023 was made after an overwhelming demand from past participants to bring the event back one last time. This year, the Kokoda Legacy event celebrates the centenary of Legacy Australia.
In 2022, proceeds from the Kokoda Legacy event exceeded $95,000, which was split evenly between Kokoda Youth Foundation and Gold Coast Legacy. This year, they hope to exceed these funds in order to assist in continuing to impact the lives of families in our community.
“Last year, the money raised enabled us to provide vital assistance to over 1,100 Gold Coast families of veterans of the Australian Defence Force who have given their lives or health for their country” said President of the Gold Coast Legacy club, Craig Kingston. “We were able to provide services like home visits, bus trips, advocating for entitlements, educational/social/financial support and holiday camps for our Legacy children following the support of the community through the Kokoda Legacy event.”
“We are honoured to commemorate Legacy Australia’s centenary with the return of the Kokoda Legacy event” said Founder of the Kokoda Youth Foundation and Vietnam Veteran Doug Henderson. “The Kokoda Legacy event not only provided invaluable support to our local youth programs but also contributed significantly to the outstanding efforts of Legacy Gold Coast.”
Starting at the Canungra Area Golf Club, Kokoda Legacy will see over 700 Gold Coast locals hike or trail run distances of either 5, 10, 20 or 30 kilometres, covering a total elevation of over 1,600 metres. Participants will attend a memorial service before ascending 400-meter
inclines, cross waist-deep rivers and pass through training sites where the army conducts live firing drills.
12-year-old, James, wants to dedicate the 20km walk to his dad. “We’re feeling a bit nervous, but our determination and commitment to Steve will get us to the finish line. Whatever it takes, we will get there”, Maranda says.
This year’s Kokoda Legacy event promises to be an unforgettable tribute, combining challenge with heartfelt remembrance – a fitting way to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of their country. Don’t miss your chance to contribute to the noble causes as the community comes together to commemorate our heroes. Registration fees start from as little as $20, visit kokodachallenge.com for details.