Seasoned marathon runner and father-of-two Johan Stassen will put his legs to good use next month when he runs more than 40km to raise money for the Katanning Community Childcare Centre. Childcare centres across the country have faced a devastating two months after the Federal Government announced a switch to a free emergency childcare package for families at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in April. Despite throwing a lifeline to families facing the unprecedented financial pressures of the pandemic, childcare centres were forced to soldier on using half of their regular income, with only some staff eligible for weekly JobKeeper payments. But the sector was shaken up again last week when it was announced the temporary relief measures for parents and staff would be switched off from July 13, and the national Child Care Subsidy reinstated. Katanning Community Childcare Centre director Julie Hawkins said only three of the centre’s nine staff members were eligible for JobKeeper payments, so they could only welcome half their usual number of children. “We’ve seen some challenging times with low numbers, but nothing like this,” she said. “Luckily we’ve had some very supportive parents because we’ve had to reduce hours and also places. “While we still offered quality care, we just couldn’t do the same level of activities. “We did it tough but we made it through and there is light at the end of the tunnel.” Ms Hawkins said staff and parents had decided to hold a fundraiser to give the centre the boost it needed to bring back staff. Mr Stassen, whose children go to the childcare centre, volunteered to dust off his running shoes for the cause. With more than 15 marathons under his belt, Mr Stassen said he was confident he would make the run from Kojonup to Katanning in less than six hours. “It’s just a very small contribution, and if you can do that by doing something that you love, then that’s a bonus,” he said. “We are in the debt of the daycare, and we have to thank them for the service they provide. “The daycare staff are doing a brilliant job assisting us as parents because if they were not able to provide this service ... it would be chaos.” Mr Stassen will set off from St Bernard’s Primary School and finish at the Katanning Community Childcare Centre on Conroy Street on July 4. The centre hopes to raise $2500. To support the run visit the centre’s Facebook page or phone 9821 2007.