A Wellington woman has been doing some heavy lifting to raise money for Hohepa Hawke's Bay.

Johanna Smith, who is a personal trainer and competes at powerlifting, spent last month squatting 100kg a day as a fundraiser for the school and residential care facility for people with disabilities.

She was inspired to undertake the challenge because her brother Hayden is autistic and lives with a full-time carer at Hohepa.

Smith said her brother went to Hohepa at 15, spending the first few years at the school and now participates in the adult programmes such as woodwork and gardening.


"[Hohepa] has enabled Hayden to thrive with his particular interests and abilities.

"I don't know where my family would be without them.

"This organisation has helped shape Hayden's life and has given him the opportunity to grow and experience as much independence as possible."

Smith visited Hohepa when her brother graduated from the school (which caters to students up to 21 years old).

"Hayden lives in a cottage with six other boys... they have a garden and chickens.

"Our whole family stayed at the cottage for the day and had dinner with the boys and staff.

"I've been doing this challenge/fundraiser because I want to support Hayden and those who have looked after him for so long. "

Smith's mother, Maria Hegedus, said the holistic approach at Hohepa allowed Hayden to be himself.


"The property itself is peaceful and serene, and the semi-rural nature and location is a haven for him as too much busyness and noise overwhelms his sensory intellect.

"With their help he has developed into a wonderful young man.

"We cannot thank them enough for their continuing care."

The fundraiser has also helped Smith gain more confidence in her powerlifting.

"At first I was definitely nervous but as time has gone on I barely have to think about what I'm doing now," Smith said.

"My form has tightened right up, I no longer feel unconfident and the 100kg squats are feeling like a walk in the park.

"The only challenges have been when I haven't been feeling well."

All funds raised will be donated to Hohepa to contribute to the development and maintenance of the community.

Smith started the challenge on April 30 and completed her last squat on May 29. She has raised more than $380 so far.

Donations can still be made until the end of June via her Givealittle page.