Joni loves sport. At Matamata College she was involved in many teams and individual pursuits including netball, volleyball, athletics, tennis, triathlons and her main passion – swimming. Academically she performed well also, winning the award for Excellence in Class and Field.
She gained her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science (Medical Imaging Technology) in 2000 in Palmerston North. With this she was able to fund her way, exploring the world and taking radiography positions in Melbourne, London, Oxford, Liverpool, and Cardiff.
On returning to New Zealand and settling in Auckland, she explored her thirst for triathlons again. Also, she began her rewarding career in swim coaching where she joined Rick Wells coaching school at Olympic Pools under whom she trained also. Over the next few years her bigger achievements were the 10k marathon swim in Fiji, her age group placing in the National Ocean Swim series, and the Coast to Coast multisport event.
It was around this time when the biggest challenge was yet to present itself. During her training, Joni experienced symptoms in her legs and eyes. She presented to a Neurologist who made the disbelieving diagnosis of MS. She was forced to reassess her life goals, her health and her priorities. Her passion for triathlons had to end; life had a change of direction. She took her life and mountain bike to Queenstown for a job and never looked back. She did a summer of Adventure guiding and made the most of the beautiful surroundings.
In 2011 Joni moved to Tauranga, for a job at Bay Radiology, for the ocean swimming, and to be near her family. She can often be spotted in her early morning swimming group heading out for their round the Mount swims.
Here she joined the MS Society for support and information. She wanted to give back so established the Tour of Tauranga Charity Bike Ride. As the event manager she found another niche, and is actively building up this annual fun cycle event within the community.
She completed her International Life Coaching qualifications in 2013 and is now embarking on this alongside her radiography work.
Despite the hurdles created by her multiple sclerosis, Joni remains incredibly positive. She remains determined and ambitious, often turning her efforts to helping others. She claims she has her incredibly supportive and loving family to thank for helping keep things together. And she says she wouldn’t be the strong, compassionate person without MS and its journey.