Stepping up

Dianne Byrne aims to climb 53 flights of stairs, 10 times this year
Dianne Byrne aims to climb 53 flights of stairs, 10 times this year

Last year, fitness instructor Dianne Byrne completed seven climbs of Perth’s tallest building, Central Park, to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis WA’s (MSWA) Step Up challenge.

That’s 1,103 steps each climb. She completed her seven ascents in just under one hour and 20 minutes.

This year the event takes place on June 19 and Dianne is aiming even higher, with plans to climb the 53 flights of stairs, 10 times.

Dianne on the climb
Dianne on the climb

The Step Up challenge aims to raise funds and awareness to support people living with all neurological conditions, to advocate for change and to find cures for MS, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, motor neurone disease and acquired brain injury, as well as others.

Dianne says the event is hard work, but it is something that anybody can tackle.

“All you’ve got to do is just climb up the stairs, although it can get competitive if that’s how you want to be,” she says.

Dianne has been making the climb for six or seven years now and admits to being one of those people who does get competitive.

“Last year I said I wasn’t going to be so competitive, so we decided as a team we’d do five climbs and after the first one the girls said ‘go, otherwise we will kill you, just do it’.

“They did five, which was just fantastic because it is hard and they find it hard, but I put my head in a different place when I do it.

“I tell people how much I’m going to do, and I told them I would do five last year and I came back with seven, so I exceeded both their and my expectations.

“I do it because I can and some people can’t, but I got involved in the first place because my mum had MS and unfortunately passed away from it, so this will always be something I do because I want to raise awareness and raise money.

“It’s a great cause, and while no disease is nice, this disease is awful because it can get you young or old. It got to a point where my mum couldn’t swallow correctly because the disease goes up into your brain stem – and that’s awful to watch.”

Dianne is part of a team who tackle the challenge with her just about every year.

“They hate it, but they do it because they know how much it means to me.

“We try and raise money differently each year, but in Covid times it’s so hard. We’ve tried to put on high teas in the past, but it’s very hard to do high teas now when you don’t know if the event will be able to take place. Last year we potted lots of plants belonging to one of my friends who is very good in the garden and sold them.”

Dianne says they are still working on a fund-raising plan for this year.

“I try and get everyone involved and I’d love everyone to do it, so everyone raises their own money, but a lot of people know how much it means to me and they help and I appreciate that so much.”

Because she is already a fitness instructor Dianne says fitness isn’t an issue for her.

“I am quite fit. I go to Jacob’s Ladder once a week and I do some stairs.”

MSWA is a non-government, not-for-profit organisation, employing 1000 staff across Western Australia providing care from a team of experienced nursing and allied health professionals who provide information and a range of support from the time of a person’s diagnosis.

The organisation also provides funding for vital research into neurological conditions.

Step Up includes a mini-climb, 477 stairs or 22 flights, which is suitable for children aged six or over. All children must be accompanied by an adult for the duration of the climb.

The One Up challenge has 1,103 stairs, or 53 flights and Double Up includes getting up 2,206 stairs or 106 flights, climbing to the top of Central Park twice, with an hour between each climb.

In the Multi-Climb, in which Dianne will be competing, entrants nominate how many climbs they will do, but all climbs must be completed on event day, between 8am and noon.

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