When Nina Barough convinced 12 friends that power walking the New York Marathon in brightly decorated bras would be a fun thing to do, little did she realise how it would change her life.
Although then she had no close link with breast cancer, she knew of its devastating impact – women have a one in eight risk of being diagnosed during a lifetime.
Through their efforts in taking part in the 1996 Big Apple event, the group raised £25,000 for the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity.
But just two months after her New York adventure, Nina was devastated to be told she had breast cancer and it was an aggressive tumour which had probably been there for three years.
From that moment her world was turned upside down. She had to give up her styling and production business to undergo a programme of treatment, including a mastectomy, followed by radiotherapy and a two-year course of Zoladex injections and Tamoxifen.
Anxious to be seen to do something positive to support her, friends decided to enter the 1997 London Marathon and again raised over £25,000 for breast cancer charities.
Three days later the first Walk the Walk auction was held to sell bras specifically designed by celebrities, including Paul Smith, Mary Quant and Richard Branson.
The following year, as Nina’s treatment continued, she again entered a team for the London Marathon but only half of the 50 were given one of the highly sought places. Not wanting to disappoint the remaining 25 or waste their fundraising and training, she came up with the idea of their very own marathon.
It started at midnight on the day of the event and ended in Trafalgar Square at 7 a.m. when the ‘baton’ was handed over to those taking part in the official marathon – the MoonWalk was born!
Fast forward 15 years and Walk the Walk has raised almost £75 million. This money has been used to fund research into breast cancer and to improve the care of cancer patients throughout the UK.
It has grown to include MoonWalks in Edinburgh and Iceland, while teams of walkers have taken part in events all over the world, including New York, Peru, Nijmegen, Paris and Berlin.
The Edinburgh MoonWalk has raised over £14 million from six events and all cash raised in Scotland stays in Scotland.
Last October, the new Maggie’s centre opened at Gartnavel Hospital with the charity picking up the bill.
Walk the Walk has also given cash to The Breast Cancer Institute at the Western Infirmary in Edinburgh to renovate a ward and install a new operating theatre.
Scalp coolers, machines that can help some people from losing their hair while undergoing chemo-therapy, have been bought for hospitals throughout Scotland.
Last week, the charity once again teamed up with the Maggie’s Centre to announce it would provide the £3 million needed to build one of the world-renowned facilities in the grounds of Forth Valley Royal Hospital at Larbert.
Reflecting on the achievements of the last 15 years, Nina said: “I am really proud of Walk the Walk and everybody who takes part in the MoonWalks.
“It’s not something I ever intended to do, I meant to do it once. But it has had this amazing organic growth, purely because of ordinary women and men doing something extraordinary and getting behind us.
“All the funding comes from people putting one foot in front of the other, which I think is really special, and quite unique for a grant making charity.”
Encouraging Falkirk women – and men – to get involved in this year’s event which starts in Inverleith Park on Saturday, June 9, Nina said it is something everyone can do, whether they tackle the full marathon or the half version, whether they are already fit or want to lose some pounds.
She added: “The wonderful thing about The MoonWalk is that anybody can take part, whatever their fitness level. If you have never done any exercise before, just walk out the door even if it’s to the top of the street and back again and the next day go a little bit further. “It is the first steps of getting out there walking that are the most important and one day will motivate you to do the next.”