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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Deborah De Williams

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Deborah De Williams and her dog, Maggie

Awarded for service to the Community, Sport and Recreation

Born: 1969

Entered on roll: 2013


Running for a cure…

Never tell Deborah De Williams "never" as she has an outstanding determination to achieve sporting and charity goals.

Deborah, born in Western Australia on 10 September 1969, was the first woman to walk around Australia. From October 2003 to October 2004, she walked 16 925 kilometres in 365 days and raised funds for the Kids Help Line along the way.

When Deborah was diagnosed with breast cancer on 15 March 2006, she decided her way to fight cancer was to start planning to be the first woman to run around Australia to raise money for breast cancer research.

"I couldn't - wouldn't - let cancer take the prize of being my toughest challenge."

Running around Australia remained a focus for Deborah during cancer treatment. She established the charity, Running Pink, and trained daily. Her motto is "change the world, one step at a time". When Deborah was finally ready to run around Australia, adversity struck. She tripped over her dog, Maggie, and broke both her feet. Doctors said she would never run again, but Deborah had heard a similar prognosis as a 14-year-old. At that time she started dog walking, then race walking and ultimately became an ultra-marathon runner.

After surgery and recovery, Deborah again defied the odds and became the first woman to run around Australia, completing the 18 026 kilometre run in 406 days, in May 2011, and raising over $200 000 for breast cancer research.

Running Pink is helping women "get back into life" after cancer through exercise and running programs. In April 2012, Deborah and Running Pink took a team of breast cancer survivors to run in the London Marathon.

Deborah's awards include the: Tasmanian Pride of Australia Courage Medal 2012; Tasmanian Australian of the Year 2011; Endurance Fundraiser of the Year Award 2011; National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2011 Patron Awards; Tasmanian Community Achievement Awards - Outstanding Achiever Award 2011; and the Cliff Young Award for most courageous athlete 2004.

 Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women