A year ago, Stacey Roche relied heavily on her wheelchair.

In less than four weeks, she'll walk up Mauao for the first time.

The challenge has been set to raise money for new equipment for the SwitchedOn Exercise and Wellness Centre in Mount Maunganui.

Roche, who has cerebral palsy, made the decision to leave her Auckland office job at the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation and move to Mount Maunganui a year and a half ago.

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"I had been at my job for 11 years and felt my mobility significantly declining," she says.

Sitting at a desk every day had taken a toll on her body to the point where she was always using her wheelchair.

"If you don't use it, you lose it" is the motto the 39-year-old uses to describe cerebral palsy, so Roche has been "using it" ever since her move to the Bay.

Stacey Roche trains with exercise physiologist Brennan Mullan every day at SwitchedOn in Mount Maunganui. Photo / Andrew Warner
Stacey Roche trains with exercise physiologist Brennan Mullan every day at SwitchedOn in Mount Maunganui. Photo / Andrew Warner

She can be found at SwitchedOn every day where she has been working with exercise physiologist Brennan Mullan to gain strength for the climb.

Roche will climb Mauao on March 14 to coincide with her 40th birthday.

"I wanted to do something a bit crazy and different. I see the Mount every day and everyone goes up it, so why shouldn't I?"

On the day, Roche will wear a belt and have a person either side of her just in case she needs support.

"My mum and dad will be waiting at the top of the Mount with bubbles."

Mullan has been working with Roche since she arrived more than a year ago and has seen her grow stronger every week.

"We've been doing a lot of cardio-based training and work on her balance and strength," Mullan says.

"This walk reinforces to other people that they can overcome big challenges. Stacey is really inspiring and doesn't let her disability define her," he says.

The challenge is one goal on Roche's road to ultimately being able to walk unaided - and she's looking forward to "divorcing" her walking frame, named Johnny Walker.

Stacey's Mount Challenge
What- Stacey Roche will be walking up Mauao for the first time.
When- Wednesday March 14
Where- Mauao
Why- To raise money for equipment for SwitchedOn Exercise and Wellness Centre. Stacey's dream is to raise enough money for a vibration training machine.
To donate visit- https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/staceys-mount-challenge
To follow Stacey's journey visit- https://www.instagram.com/switchedon_centre/?hl=en