Walkathon ‘Rite of Passage’

For 57 years Launceston Grammar students have participated in the annual Walkathon, an event often described as a ‘rite of passage’ for the final year at the School.

Headmaster, Richard Ford said we are immensely proud of our Grade 12s who embarked this morning on the 80km in 24 hour-event from Deloraine to the Senior Campus for this year’s chosen Charity, Fight MND.

“Every dollar raised by the students will go directly to research to find effective treatments and ultimately a cure for Motor Neurone Disease,” says Richard.

“Our student’s courage and genuine desire to look beyond themselves is inspirational – particularly given the most challenging year our Grade 12s have had with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We felt that it was important to provide them with the opportunity to do the Walkathon and have seen our students grow as individuals, and also as a steadfast community looking outward to the needs of others.”

The entire school has rallied behind this year’s Walkathon, with key events including an ice bucket fundraiser, merchandise sales and book week celebrations. Over $43,000 has been raised so far.


The Walkathon grew from a challenge by the late United States President, John F. Kennedy, that a fit man should be able to walk 50 miles in 20 hours. Recent research has established that the challenge actually predates Kennedy and can be traced back to Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt, 26th US President (1901 – 1909), the man after whom the Teddy Bear was named.

Kennedy shared Roosevelt’s interest in health and fitness and decided to investigate the fitness of his White House staff by putting the challenge to them. He informed his Secretary for State Pierre Salinger that someone from amongst the staff would have to do the walk, someone who would inspire millions of out of shape Americans to do the same thing. Eventually it was Robert Kennedy, the President’s brother and US Attorney General, who took the challenge on, along with four of his aides from the Justice Department. The walk started in sub-zero temperatures but by the 35 mile mark the last of the aides had dropped out. Kennedy went on to be the only one of the five to finish the distance.

The walk was widely reported in the world press and appeared in the Launceston Examiner where it was read by headmaster Don Selth. He put the challenge to the prefects over a breakfast meeting and it was taken up by them. The Walkathon is now an annual event on the Launceston Grammar calendar.