Defying the odds - Moorabool News September 30th

By Meg Kennedy





It’s almost unfathomable he can even take one step, but Terry Mitropoulos has defied odds to walk across two states for an important cause.


In 2010, Mr Mitropoulos developed a brain tumour, creating five percent chance of survival. After 13 operations over two years, including contracting a superbug, Mr Mitropoulos suffered a major stroke; losing his ability to speak, see and hear, and was told by doctors he would never walk again.


After nearly four-years in hospital and rehabilitation, regaining his sight (he has peripheral damage and double vision), hearing (he remains deaf in one ear) and speech,

Mr Mitropoulos decided to embark on a 43-day walk from Adelaide to Melbourne to raise awareness for mental health, creating ‘Walk and Shine’.


While passing through Moorabool and nearing the end of his journey, Mr Mitropoulos sat down with the Moorabool News about his journey so far, and why his message is

more important than ever.


Since beginning his journey and at the time of the interview, Mr Mitropoulos said his biggest lesson has been “just to understand people greater, and just to feel what

they are going through.”


“I’ve come to realise that we’re all going through something, but what I’ve learnt through

this is that knowing that we’re there for one another, that’s all we need,” he said.

His journey has not only taken him to capital cities, but has seen him spend days passing through small country towns, including Gordon and Ballan.

Mr Mitropoulos said he found these pockets of communities to be “more genuine, more

down-to-earth”.


“Just the way they reach out and the way they allow you to connect with them, whereas in the heart of Melbourne, there’s none of that – I wouldn’t say none of it, there’s very little of it,” he said.


His journey has meant he has crossed paths with a myriad of people who have their own stories to share.


Although Mr Mitropoulos believes there hasn’t been a singular story that has “connected to him greater than others”, he emphasises on being able to empathise with these

experiences.


“I’ve had a taste of just about everything…has one connected me greater than others?

Probably not,” he said.


“[But] I can relate to what they are sharing or what they are encountering in their lives,

just through their experiences…not more so because I sympathise with them, but I can

empathise.


“I am able to empathise through my experiences; and that is what’s allowed me to connect greater,” he said.


While passing through Gordon, Mr Mitropoulos spent time at the site of AFL personality and former Bungaree resident Danny Frawley’s passing in Millbrook.

Taking a moment to collect himself, Mr Mitropoulos said he couldn’t find words to describe the experience.


“With all the suffering through mental health, there’s no description that best describes that – no. How do you describe that? How do I interpret that? I don’t know.”


He notes the sense of community Walk and Shine has created.


“This is what the Walk and Shine is about. Sure, it’s about supporting mental health – that’s the number one.

“Number two for me, is to be able to put people together, because I love people dearly.”


After celebrating in Federation Square on Friday, 27 September with family, friends and

supporters, as well as and taking a well-earned break, Mr Mitropoulos hopes to register

Walk and Shine as a charity and get into motivational speaking.


“[I want to] put programs and put services that I believe that could target mental health for men; to share our story and share our achievements, but not just this – from the

beginning,” he said.


“From what I had, from where I was, from what we had to face, from what we’ve

encountered, and what we had to get to, to put all of this together in order to achieve what we have.


“And it’s not just my achievement, it’s our achievement. It’s not what I’ve achieved, it’s

what we’ve achieved.”





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