Setting herself a mammoth challenge, Rhona Kingett completed her own accessible marathon
As I looked through my emails one day, I came across one about of doing a virtual marathon for MS-UK. It suggested taking a challenge for 26 days, or 26 times, or anything relating to the 26 miles of a marathon, due to the postponement of the Virgin Money London Marathon.,
When young I was a bit of a long distance runner. Never to the extent of running marathons though! I actually put my energies into dancing rather than running, and I became a professional actor, dancer and musician. Unfortunately as my career progressed taking me upwards, the multiple sclerosis (MS) progressed and took me downwards. The MS won and it overtook the work.
I tried to think of how I could get the virtual marathon idea to work for an MS-UK fundraiser. My MS has moved onto secondary progressive about three years ago. I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 1994. My legs no longer support me and I get hoisted between the bed and my wheelchair. I have bad spasms and I’m supposed to do all sorts of physio exercises but there are so many and my body doesn't do what I tell it to do.
Somehow I let these exercises slip. Then it suddenly struck me how I could do a virtual marathon that would help both me and the charity. I would ask people to sponsor me to do my physio exercises on each of the 26 consecutive days. My husband (my full-time carer) would be making sure that I really do them. The hope being that, once I’d fitted the exercises into my daily routine, I would continue with them.
I sent the link for the sponsorship out on Facebook and Twitter. When money started being pledged by people I realised that I had to do what I had said I would do. But after a number of days, I found that there were certain movements that became easier to do – indeed I increased the number of repetitions of some. That was another encouragement. It made things easier for me and also for my husband. More encouragement.
I sent updates to my social media contacts. Some of these shared them, either electronically or just verbally, which led to further sponsorship donations.
I was pleased to see the money coming in, and therefore the amount available for MS-UK to use, going up. Not just because it showed what supportive friends I have (I knew that) but because I knew it meant MS-UK could give more support and information to people and families who have had the news that ‘the MS monster’ has come into their lives.
To contribute to Rhona’s fundraiser, click here
Rebecca Bailey was diagnosed with MS during lockdown, and a ‘desperate impulse’ has resulted in her helping others just like herself with overwhelming support, she is our July Fundraiser of the Month
Here’s the thing you should know about me, I’m not a good runner and a strange phenomenon happens where I turn into a sweaty beetroot. Ask anybody. I used to run a bit here and there, nothing fancy. But now, despite the beetroot face, I’m going to keep running until I physically can’t anymore. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) during the pandemic. That was a bit of a surprise for me, in a year full of surprises. And yet, this July, I’m running a (very slow) marathon over the course of the month. All 42km, bit by painstaking bit. Surprised? I know I am!
So what spurred on my July dash? I have to be honest, it was a desperate impulse. My symptoms are mostly tingly feet, but it’s pretty off-putting when I’m running not to feel the ground beneath me. Will I trip and swerve right off the path? Probably not, fingers crossed! For a while, I just wanted to hide and wait until the tingling went away. I couldn’t envision going out on the track like this. I saw the ideal version of myself I had in my head swerve off the path and fall out of sight. My confidence was broken. I stopped running.
Then I saw the MS-UK’s My MS Marathon campaign and madly thought “Yeah, alright then”. I had been trying to be vocal about my new health condition but I never anticipated what happened next. I linked up my fundraising page with friends and family and promptly forgot about it. I put my trainers on and managed to stay on the path for the duration of my run.
I have email alerts on my phone, and as I pounded my way over tarmac and dirt track, I was accompanied by the ringing sound of emails flying into my inbox. At 2km I stopped for a breather and checked out what was causing the racket. A man was running past me at the exact moment that I whooped for joy, and I think I caused him to leap out of his skin. I couldn’t believe it, I’d smashed my £100 target within a couple of hours.
Turns out, I hadn’t really told that many people about my diagnosis. My bad. They learned about it through my fundraiser, and all I can surmise is that they wanted to give me a hand. I just didn’t realise how many hands there were, reaching to give me a boost, a pat on the back, a high five. Old family friends, co-workers, lost friends, and against the backdrop of well-wishers, always my family. I haven’t seen my mum or dad, haven’t hugged them in four months. Not since before my diagnosis. But my family led the way with my fundraiser, reaching across the distance to keep me going. I was crying by 3km because my next target had whooshed by like the kilometres. By 4km, I didn’t know what to do with myself but laugh. To myself. In the middle of the street. As it rained. It was that kind of a day.
I started out doing small runs - 1.5km, maybe 2.5km if I was feeling brave. Before long, I fell back into the rhythm of my run. My muscles remembered what they were doing, I recognised the twinge of a stitch but pushed through it. I inched back up to 5km, and it had been over a year since I had the energy or the confidence to push that far. And now, when I feel like walking, I remember my backers’ messages and I keep running.
I know that for many other people with MS, having MS-UK there will keep them going. It’s so important to help support people going through this frightening time. I know because I’m going through it too, and I need all the help I can get.
I hit £1,000 last week and I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling (or running) since. I’m still on the right path, for now. If you've been inspired by Rebecca's story or would like to donate, visit my-ms-marathon.everydayhero.com/uk/running-for-my-life
I woke up on Sunday 26 April, London Marathon day, or at least it should have been! It should have been the 40th anniversary of the event. I thought about those who should have been taking part, the months of training, the moments of pain and the little victories along the way. I picked up my phone with my cup of tea and started catching up on the social media updates when I came across an MS-UK post on Facebook “The 2.6 challenge, Save the UK's charities, 1 Day to go”, and it was posted yesterday meaning launch day was today!
I dropped a quick comment to ask if it was too late to sign up and on hearing I wasn’t too late, I quickly started thinking about what I could do. I glanced around and saw the face of the famous Pokémon Pikachu painted on the side of my beer barrel from a previous event, he looked at me smugly from across the room and my challenge started to come together.
I decided that I was going to dust him off and carry him while running 26.26km, in keeping with the 2.6 challenge. I set up my JustGiving page and told the world about my challenge for MS-UK.
It got to 5pm and as I was walking to my start line I check my JustGiving page to see I had already raised over £200, which was the perfect little boost I needed before setting off!
At 5km in my elbows were already screaming at me, I had some water and a bit of flapjack and set off up the river path. I negotiate the barrel into different positions to ease the pain on the elbows. If I held it in one hand over my back it bounced on my shoulder blades, in front of me it banged on my hips, two hands behind my head and my elbows filled with pain, there just isn't a comfortable way to carry that thing! I focused on all the reasons I was doing this, I'm running this for my parents, I'm running it for those that can't, I'm running it to raise vital funds for a charity that is due to lose out. This isn't about me or my challenge, it's about them.
I reached the half way point and pulled out my phone to find messages of support, I snapped a quick photo, picked up my barrel and continued my run feeling a little more refreshed from those encouraging words. I saw a family ahead and moved well over to let them pass, but really I was grateful for a short rest. As they passed I heard, “You do realise they make smaller water bottles mate?” It made me smile and once they'd passed I carried on, getting ever closer to the end of my journey.
Three hours after I had set off, the sun had started to set in the sky and I was just 3km from the finish. I took one quick photo with the sunset and then I picking up my pace because I knew I was almost there. Literally on the home stretch now and running towards my house, barrel in front of me, I was regularly checking my watch for distance. I watched the numbers tick over… 25.90, 26.00, 26.10, 26.2... 26.26km, I was there! It was done! My hands felt bruised, my legs tired and I felt like what I had just achieved was harder than the marathon itself. I checked JustGiving again to find the total was now over £300! I was astonished at the generosity from friends, family and even social media followers.
It was then time for a bath and a cup of tea! I feel happy to know I've helped my charity in their time of need.
If you would like to make a donation to Gavin’s fundraising page visit his JustGiving page here.
As soon as I found out I had a place on #TeamPurple in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020, I started telling everyone, and I mean everyone!
Setting up a JustGiving page makes sharing your fundraising story so easy. As soon as I had mine set up, I shared the link with friends, family, work colleagues, clients and suppliers at work, even the WhatsApp group that all the neighbours in my building are part of.
Spreading the excitement
Being passionate and truly caring about the cause you are running for is infectious. People feel it and get behind you because of it. Don’t worry about boring people, or get wrapped up in what they think about what you’re doing, as that’s not a productive use of your time and energy.
As well as donations from friends and family, I sold teams on a football scratch card. If you search ‘football scratch card’ on Amazon you can buy a pack of 10 for £3. I sold each team for £10, with £200 to go to the winner and £200 for MS-UK. I timed it to be drawn just before Christmas which I think helped get the squares sold. I’ll definitely be doing another card pre-race day.
I have also been in touch with my local community manager at Tesco to organise bag packing. I’ll be pushing for Easter weekend so that the shop will be a bit busier, and it’s not long before the race itself! I have linked up with a couple of other runners near me so that we can take this on together and have more of a presence in-store.
Running for my mum
My mum had secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Her left leg was worst affected, making walking a daily struggle.
She would often fall in public and be left humiliated and, of course, in pain.
In September 2013, she was admitted to hospital for an unrelated skin infection. On discharge she was largely bed bound as her MS became increasingly aggressive, spurred on by a weakened immune system. A combination of all of the above led to her suffering a pulmonary embolism and passing away on 26/09/13. I don’t need to tell anyone how hard losing a parent is. I am completely and utterly lost without my mum and, even six years on, it’s as rubbish as it was then!
I was too young, selfish and naïve to take control of the situation for mum. I want to run the London 2020 Marathon in memory of her and to raise funds for MS UK to be able to help others with MS because of this. MS is misunderstood, it affects everyone differently and is completely unpredictable. I want to play my part in changing this.
My top tips
If you’re training for a big run, get started on your fundraising as soon as you can so you can smash it out of the park early and focus on training
Talk to everyone about it. It will connect you with people in a way you would never have imagined.
Use social media. I’m documenting my training on Instagram (@healthylivinglisa_). It’s an amazing tool to get chatting to other runners and widen your network even further.
Get yourself into the Facebook group and connect with other MS-UK runners. There are also a few London Marathon Facebook groups with thousands of people to chat to and get tips from.
Not everyone has this opportunity, certainly not those that are badly affected with MS, so it’s important to recognise how much of a privilege we all have to be part of #TeamPurple and what an honour it is to spread awareness and take this challenge on.
This guest blog is from Poppy Storey, aged seven, from Kent, who did the Tough Mudder with her brother Heath. Poppy’s mother, Helaina, is running the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020 for MS-UK too. The Storeys really are a force to be reckoned with!
My name is Poppy. My brother Heath and I raised £420 towards Mummy’s goal by doing a Tough Mudder. We had to run and go over lots of obstacles and we got really, really muddy!
I wanted to raise money for MS-UK so my Nanny can get better. My Nanny is really kind. I want everyone with multiple sclerosis (MS) to be happy and get well soon.
My favourite obstacle was the tunnel because going through it was really fun and it was like I ended up at a different place at the other end. It was really mysterious!
I didn’t really like the monkey bars as much because they were really hard to go on and Heath had to lift me and my hands were so muddy they kept slipping off, so it didn’t work. My little sister Imogen ran round everywhere with us but not in the track, obviously. She ran next to us at every obstacle and she was very excited.
A really funny part was when I couldn’t feel my legs because all the mud went into my trousers because when we went on Mud Mountain, every time I went down the hill I fell down into the water and started to float and it felt really weird.
One of the obstacles, Everest, was funny because I kept slipping down it and I got some mud in my eye when Heath tried to pull me up. He poked me in the eye with his muddy hand and Mummy poured water into my eye and scooped it out with her finger! Mummy said I was so brave and we got a treat at the end which was a sherbet ice cream and it was really sour.
At the end we got hosed off at the water station and my trousers were so heavy I couldn’t walk to the car!
Mummy told her friends to sponsor us and our school put it in the newsletter so our friends could sponsor us too. Daddy said we did such a good job and he donated another fifty pounds!
It was really fun and I was actually very surprised how much money we raised. We loved our MS-UK vests and even Mummy has one with her name on for the marathon. Go Team Purple!
Danny Holland, one of our clients at our wellness centre, Josephs Court, has helped MS-UK year on year since 2016 with a sponsored head and beard shave to raise money to help people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).
‘This is something simple I can do to, at the very least, to help raise money for my charity.’
‘I myself have MS so I can understand how much pain and discomfort others are going through. That's why I want to help them by raising money for MS-UK and by doing so, it gives me a great feeling of happiness.’
‘I participate in the hair and beard shaving challenge to raise money and I also have a very close friend of mine who helps in collecting the money.’
Danny raised £112.38 this year, bringing his grand total raised so far up to £396.72! This money helps us to run Josephs Court, which supports people with MS to maintain their wellbeing and live independently.
If you would like to raise money for MS-UK our dedicated fundraising team are always on hand to help. We have had people raise money in lots of different ways, from sitting in a tub of baked beans to skydiving! Simply call Lucy on 01206 226500 or email email@example.com.
In this guest blog our October Fundraiser of the Month, Dan Young, tells us about how he raised an amazing £870 for MS-UK by walking the length of the River Thames this summer...
On 12 August, I set off to walk the length of the River Thames from the source in Kemble, Gloucester to the Thames Barrier.
When planning to do the walk, I decided to do it in memory of my Gran who had passed away after living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and as such, chose to raise money for MS-UK.
The route is 184 miles mainly following the Thames Path and at about 16 miles a day, I expected it take 12 days of walking through the summer heat. However, the British weather did not fail to disappoint. The first week poured with rain and in the second week, the temperature rose to 30C at its peak.
The weather made it harder than it already was. The long walks without seeing anyone were tough. I could walk 10 miles in the Oxfordshire countryside with only cows for company so when I finally saw another person I instantly wanted to talk to them!
Speaking of animals, they can be stubborn when they want to be. I had a number of situations with cows and sheep refusing to move out of my way, which left a dip in the Thames my only option at times. They were mostly harmless though and it was nice to roam through the fields and hills in the countryside and enjoy the long walks.
The scenery changed as I approached Reading and towards Central London. It was quite a relief to start walking on actual paths rather than cuttings in the grass as my feet started to feel every lump and bump in my path.
As I got into Central London, I soon turned into a tourist, walking past the Houses of Parliament and crossing the river to walk past the almighty Shard.
The end stretch from Tower Bridge to the Thames Barrier was the toughest! At this point, there were only 10 miles left but my feet were not in the best state. The area around the O2 gives little shade apart from the reflection of the sun off the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf but I pushed through. I finished at the Thames Barrier, 11 days and four hours after starting and had raised an amazing £870!
I am absolutely thrilled that I’ve stepped forward (no pun intended) and done it!
I’ve already started to plan my next adventure but for now, I’ll put my feet up…
Has Dan inspired you? Get in touch with Lucy if you would like to take on a challenge to raise money to help people affected by MS. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01206 226500. You can donate to Dan’s cause via his JustGiving page.
This month’s Fundraiser of the Month is Mathilde Bru, who swam one mile in the 2019 Children with Cancer Swim Serpentine in September.
My mum was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) around five years ago when I was 16 years old. My four younger siblings and I have witnessed first-hand the effects of this life-changing illness, and so I wanted to do something to support other people with the same illness as her.
Although there is no known cure for MS, by living with my mum I have seen that there are things that can be done to improve the quality of life of MS patients, and for this reason, I can see how crucially important MS-UK is as a charity.
To raise money to help people affected by MS, I decided to take part in the 2019 Children With Cancer Swim Serpentine one-mile swim in Hyde Park. The first time I practised swimming in the Serpentine, two swans swam up to me - I’ve always been quite scared of birds so started swimming away as fast as possible, and actually ended up swimming a full mile just trying to swim away from them! The training has definitely helped with my fear of birds, as I’ve become more used to sharing the lake with the swans (who are actually much less vicious than they are said to be!)
Raising money for MS-UK has made my swim preparations a hundred times more rewarding, and I am so glad to have signed up as part of #TeamPurple. I have received a huge amount of support and advice from both the people working at MS-UK and from the other swimmers, who have shared countless amounts of training tips and motivational support. Moreover, raising money for this charity, and sharing my fundraising page to my friends and family has been a huge source of incentive for me to train harder, as I provided updates on my practice swims. My tips for fundraising would be that others send as many emails around as possible, share on all forms of social media and annoy people enough until they donate!
Mathilde has now raised £1,827.08 for MS-UK! If you would like to donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mathilde-bru.
Earlier this month, Gary Beck and I did the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 event. My wife Diana is Head of Services for MS-UK and I went with her as a volunteer supporter at the Virgin Money London Marathon in April. I was so inspired by the experience that I wanted to do something myself. I didn't think I had a marathon in me but when I heard that I could support the charity with a 100 mile bike ride I signed up immediately. I work with Gary and when I told him I'd signed up he said he'd do it too!
The most interesting thing about all the training (and there was lots of training!) was that you get to see all sorts of things on a bike that you don't see from a car. I've nearly run over dozens of pheasants, seen stoats and weasels, a buzzard that nested at one of my stopping places, foxes and deer and I've even seen a snake for the first ever time in this country. I can also guarantee that potholes are worse on a bike than they are in a car!
Gary was responsible for a lot of the fundraising and he managed to twist the arms of a lot of people at his golf club. I have to say a big thank you to the Colne Valley Golf Club Swindle Members who raised over £250 between them. I also have to thank my employer, Gallagher, which has a charity commitment to double anything it's people raise. Thanks Gallagher! That's my main tip - a lot of companies will match any funds raised by their employees so it's always a good idea to ask.
Perhaps the funniest thing to share is that I've broken my vow never to wear Lycra. I can't say I'll be rushing to buy any more Lycra gear but it did the job on the day.
I thoroughly enjoyed this event. I enjoy cycling but I've never done anything like 100 miles before. The only thing I'd really say is that if you fancy doing something like this but aren't sure if you can do it then have faith, you'll be surprised at what you can do.
We have places in #TeamPurple for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 2020! A lasting legacy of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, this event sees more than 25,000 cyclists take on 100 miles from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, through the city and onto Surrey's stunning country roads and the Surrey Hills before the brilliant finish on The Mall in central London. Could you be one of them? Every penny you raise will help MS-UK support even more people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).
Hi, my name is Nicky Sawyer I am 53 years old. I became aware of multiple sclerosis (MS) when I was a carer in my community as several of my service-users had MS. Each service user was completely different and they all had different stages of MS.
In 2013, my daughter Sam was diagnosed with MS and she had been having symptoms since 2011, obviously we were all devastated! Sam had her son in 2012 and although has her difficult days, she does everything for him.
Four years ago when ‘brave the shave’ was starting to really take off for women, I decided to take the plunge and shave my head, and I raised £2,500 for the MS Society!
I’ve said on many occasions that it was time I did something to raise money for MS again, and even suggested Sam and I did a skydive, but Sam wasn’t so keen on this idea! Instead, Sam asked if I fancied doing the walk over the O2. ‘Why not?’ Was my reply, but let’s raise some money! And this time we chose to raise money for MS-UK.
So with only two and a half weeks to go, I asked my friends and the customers at work to help me raise some money. Soon enough the total started to mount up! I had been sponsored for £285.50 by the time we did the walk. However whilst doing it we were approached by a lovely lady and said she would like to donate to MS-UK, she gave me £10! So I donated £5 myself to round up the figure.
Sam still doesn’t want to do the sky-dive, but I will be next year with my son, so watch this space!
I would like to thank Lucy from MS-UK for all her support and I look forward to working with her on my skydive challenge next year, and to everyone that supported me and Sam on this journey!
If you want to do something different like Nicky and Sam did, email Lucy at MS-UK or give us a call on 01206 226500 to get some information and support along your journey!