Meet Sadie. At only five years old, she's accomplished an amazing fundraising activity to support MS-UK! Here's her story...
My sister, Amber age six, climbed Snowdon last year for MS-UK and I said to my Dad I think its my turn to climb a mountain this year, but I am only five. We decided to try a different mountain, so we chose Scafell Pike which is not as tall, but it is steeper. I set up my donation page, bought some new walking boots and got training. As the weekend approached, we noticed the weather looked very bad so I suggested we go a day earlier and climb on the Friday.
We drove late Thursday and arrived at our hotel after 10pm. On the morning, the weather was lovely and we set off climbing at 10am. Before we started, my Dad stood in a big cowpat which made me laugh and him stink a bit! The climb was very steep, I had to use my hands a lot. The best part was where we had to climb across a stream and we didn’t even get a little bit wet. I had fruit pastelles to get me to the top or as I called them ‘Super boosting sweets’. It took 2.15 hours to get to the top. We turned straight round and came all the way down. In total it took 4.08 hours. The climb was very very tough and I got some bad blisters but I knew we had to finish. My dad told me how proud so many people were of my achievement (he said he wasn’t crying but his eyes had lots of water coming out of them) and I was allowed to have dessert before my dinner that evening.
My grandad had multiple sclerosis (MS) for 22 years and had such courage. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2019 and I miss him a lot. I wanted to do something to make him proud and carry on his memory. I did it for MS-UK as they supported him and my family. They do wonderful things for people with MS. We raised over £2,000 and have made a memory for life.
During the first national lockdown, Keith Wood took to fundraising for MS-UK whilst keeping local residents entertained. The bears have become local legends, and this is Keith's story.
"As the people of West Bergholt came out and went out and about for their daily exercise, the Bergholt Bears became a much-loved fixture in our landscape. Families eagerly looked forward to their daily visit to the “Bergholt Bears” to see the latest escapades and young and old seemed to love them. I soon became known as the “Bear Man of Bergholt. Please note this is spelt BEAR and not BARE! The first book shows all the different activities the Bergholt Bears got up to from 4th April to 18th June during the Lockdown 2020"
It didn’t stop there, following the huge demand for the now famous Bergholt Bears, Keith went on to publish a second book - The Bergholt Bears, Book Two!
You can get a copy of the second book at the usual local outlets in Colchester: Kitty Rose, Pantry61, the White Hart and Palmer and Partners.
All the money raised by the sale of the second book will be donated to MS-UK, a charity very close to Keith’s heart as he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2012. Keith has already raised £1,800 through sales of the second book!
The bears have now been named!
Heathlands Primary School, the local school held a ‘Name the Bear’ competition where pupils were able to enter their chosen name for the bears in return for a small donation. The winner was pulled out of the hat at the local allotment opening and the famous Bergholt Bears have now officially been named - Eddie the Teddy and Genie the Teeny!
Our Fundraisers of the Month, Lucy and Kate share their story about what they're doing to support MS-UK and why
Remember those really warm days just over a month ago? Yes, REALLY it was very warm - it was actually so sunny and warm that on one of those beautiful days I got a little sunburn - in March! The reason for this is I was out walking for a good four and a half hours, here is why:
My sister Kate and I had decided to walk the length of Suffolk, along St Edmund Way, aiming for people to sponsor us to raise money in support of MS-UK, and (luckily) we started our first leg of the walk on the warmest day of the year so far. Our mum had MS and, although she didn't really need the support from MS-UK that much, Mum felt they were always there if she needed them. I remember her saying that she felt ‘lucky’ as she was diagnosed late in life, “I’m getting old anyway!” she would say, but she also felt MS-UK is a very valuable charity to others with MS.
Sadly, we lost Mum to cancer four years ago. After Mum died, I walked the Essex Way, and managed to raise money for the new Cancer Centre at Colchester Hospital. I’d spoken about it with Mum as she felt she wanted to support the new centre in some way, which just goes to show that she was thinking about other people, as she so often did - she knew there was no way that the centre would be built in time for her to benefit from it. She was happy that I had a plan. Just after her birthday and just before the 4th anniversary of losing Mum, my sister Kate and I thought it was about time we did something else in her memory.
We decided on the 80 mile route running the length of Suffolk, winding its way through some beautiful, quintessentially English, and typically Suffolk villages along the way. Our first leg was from Manningtree train station on the Essex/Suffolk border to Stoke by Nayland, approximately 11 miles, so a good chunk of it to start.
As soon as we stepped onto the track just beside Manningtree station we heard a chiff-chaff in the trees beside us, the first I’ve heard this year, reminding us that Spring has arrived. At the end of the lane, just before we turned to walk through the red brick tunnel holding the train tracks above us, we saw the first of the signs for St Edmund Way, letting us know that we were on the right route. We continued to look for these markers along the route in reassurance, despite me carrying a paper copy of the Ordnance Survey Map in my backpack (and having the app on my phone)!
Still in Essex, but only just - along on the banks of the River Stour we spotted a pair of goldfinches, bouncing along the blackthorn that was lining the path. The flash of yellow and red brightened our walk and made me think of the huge tub of bird feed, bigger than your average kitchen bin, that Mum always had filled to the brim, ensuring that she helped the birds through winter.
Mum loved her wildflowers too, sometimes not necessarily knowing their more common names, usually referring to them with their old country folk names, I was pleased to spot a few stitchwort flowers just about opening, of course Mum called these ‘shirt buttons’. Soon the banks and hedgerows will be full of these pretty little white stars, just in time to coincide with the bluebells, which make for a beautiful combination, especially with a few red campion thrown in for measure!
As it turns out, it has been rather cold for a while now and nature has very slowly been waking up, the bluebells are only just here and the hawthorn is still in bud. We have now completed three sections of our walk and have reached Melford Country Park. We have enjoyed an abundance of wildlife, wildflowers and other sights along the way, including a pair of red kite circling above us at Nayland, the dragon on the walls of St Mary the Virgin at Wiston, peacock, brimstone and orange tip butterflies, swallows over Sudbury Meadows, and a little mouse, busy in the bottom of the hedgerow, that we quietly watched for a few seconds but it felt like several minutes.
Mum loved Suffolk and would have loved all the wildlife we have seen so far, she would have been able to identify so much more of it, but we are working on our knowledge and can’t wait to see what we discover next!
Check out Lucy and Kate’s fundraising page for an update on their challenge and to offer your support. If you are inspired by Lucy’s story and thinking of taking on a personal challenge, get in touch today and we can help you make it happen! Call 01206 226500 or email email@example.com
Cathy and Sue took part in the Big Purple Dog Walk for MS-UK, and raised over £400 with their team of pups and walkers. Cathy shares their story and the support they were able to give each other during the challenge.
'After the success of Run Every Day in January 2021 for MS-UK, Sue our Run Together Leader and MS-UK ambassador asked if we would like to join in The Big Purple Dog Walk, and many of the Run Together members jumped at the chance to sign up. Some team members were really struggling through the dark gloomy months, on top of trying to cope with the stress of Covid. So, we put together Team Purple Pups. Our Purple Pups are called Idris, Padfoot, Widget, Stanley, Tala, Willow, Mav, Jess, Nelly, Hunter, Max, Holly, Blitz, Ozwold, Shadow, Poppy, Willow 2, Lenny and Winnie
Team Purple Pups did us proud, they had us out every day, rain or shine! To get out in the fresh air, even for a short walk is just the best cure if you are feeling a bit down, anxious or just want to clear your head! Some of the Purple Pup’s walked miles every day, some of the slightly older dogs could only manage a few miles a day, but together as a team the Purple Pup’s covered so much mileage and completed quite a few marathons!
The MS-UK challenges throughout lockdown have helped so may of our Run Together Purple Pup owners. The challenges have got us out and about and we have met up with other Run Together members and Purple Pup’s pups and has been a life saver for many. Sue and our Run Together members have looked out for each other since lockdown last year and provided support and encouragement to anyone struggling with the Covid situation and not being able to see their loved ones. They relied on our running family to get some of us through some very dark times.
A huge thanks goes to Sue Bennett, without her, none of these MS-UK challenges would have happened. Sue has looked after us all since the very first lockdown, with live videos on Facebook, our Purple WhatsApp group, arranging buddy up runs or walks and just being there to support her team members. Team Purple Pups thoroughly enjoyed the Big Purple walk and have raised £405 for MS-UK!'
In July 2021, I am taking on The National 3 Peaks Challenge in aid of MS-UK.
These are the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales. Considered one of Britain’s toughest outdoor challenges, the National 3 Peaks Challenge takes in the dizzy heights of Ben Nevis (1,344m), Scafell Pike (978m) and Snowdon (1,085m). Over the course of two days, we will trek around 26 miles and ascend to a total height of almost 3,000m!
I continue to give myself these challenges as my sister Patsy was diagnosed with MS at an early age of just 14. This had a tremendous impact on her and also my family. Seeing my family crumble around me at the time of Patsy’s diagnosis was just heart breaking. It was Patsy that got us all through it, no matter what she was facing and the pain she was in, she smiled her way through it.
Patsy inspires me to push myself to the limits in all aspects of my life. She’s just purely amazing. I will continue to support the charities that helped Patsy throughout her MS Journey as without the brilliant work that they do, Patsy wouldn’t be where she is today and for that, I will always be very thankful. I wish we knew about MS-UK when Patsy first got diagnosed.
Since December 2020, I have raised over £2,200 for MS-UK and over £7,000 for different MS Charities. This year has been the toughest yet as I have had to fundraise through the pandemic. I was determined to reach my target so just had to think outside the box!
Most of my fundraising at this time has been done over social media and Zoom. I raised £700 through selling lucky numbers and football cards for £10 each. Half of the money went to the winner and the rest of the money donated to MS-UK
Raffle – I contacted friends/family/colleagues/anyone that I could possibly speak to and asked if anyone could donate a prize to his raffle. The items donated included unwanted gifts and presents, along with some very generous donations such as a running machine! The raffle was done online, with ticket donations being made to the fundraising page and pictures of the prizes being shared on his social media.
Online quizzes – This is a great way to raise a quick £50 or £60. This can be done via zoom one evening with some friends and family and will bump up your fundraising nicely.
Bingo – This is great to do with your colleagues, and again can be done online while you are still working remotely (speak to your workplace and see if they will help you to organise something with your colleagues!)
An Incentive to reach a target – I came up with a wacky idea to reach £1,500 with my fundraising. I promised to complete a run dressed in a dress, wig and makeup if his total reached £1,500 by a certain date. The sponsors came flooding in and the outfit is now being decided! (I will completing this run before MS Awareness week!)
Thank you so much to everyone that continues to support Patsy and my family. It’s very moving that even through the pandemic, donations have been made.
I am absolutely honoured to be Patsy’s brother and I will continue to spend my life fighting for hers.
If you would like to make a donation to my fundraising page I would be very grateful:
In October this year, I decided to run a virtual marathon, my first one. I began training, building up and getting the miles in my legs, tentatively at first to avoid injury but building up the distances as I went. It was very hard but didn’t take long and like my dad, I (quietly) don’t give up.
My motivation… my dad. An athlete, a footballer, champion snooker and darts player, canoeist and lifelong fisherman. He received his multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis when he was 27 years old, not long after I was born. He is now 66 and although the progression of the disease has been relatively gradual, it has taken away all those things. He has lost the vast majority of the mobility control in his legs amongst other things. Having lived with MS for 40 years I cannot believe how resilient and calm he is and yet open. We all keep a little back from our loved ones and I do not doubt that he does because this is his and he owns it. He shares what he wants and faces into what he doesn’t. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t moan and he doesn't give up.
I originally intended to run the Official 2020 Virtual TCS New York City Marathon solo and self-supported, however, an ambitious practice run turned into the full distance a week ahead of schedule! I was out on the trails and things were working out well so decided to push on to make sure I understood what the ‘real thing’ would be like… good job too as I learnt a lot about what my body needs when under this much pressure. I thought of my dad.
On the day, after designing my route and packing my vest with food and water, I decided to set off from my dad’s home and take a nostalgic run through the old days along roads, towns and villages I remember when growing up. The weather was shocking with heavy rain and being soft underfoot - so Garmin ‘Set', crime audiobook ‘On’ (Dad loves detective stories), head down, swing the arms and see where the legs take you!
20 miles in and to be honest I’d had enough of natural beauty, enough of my audiobook, my body was rejecting food and all the water in the world was not hydrating me. There was no reason I could be, but I was bored! So I called my wife and spoke to my kids who buoyed me up. Then called my dad who picked up just as the wind and rain returned and couldn’t hear a damn word I was saying! They say the last six miles are the worst. That said, I completed it, solo and self-supported while playing detective in the pouring rain.
My reward (medal) is still in the mail from US however the New York Road Runners app provided this augmented reality one which really lifts the spirits when you award it yourself while you pose for as good a selfie as you can get (or care about getting!). My other reward was a cold, then hot bath, a can of American Cream Soda, nine sausages with huge amounts of Dad's mash.
I was reading about MS-UK and what caught my eye, in particular, was their focus on the mental health of individuals with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. My dad, my brothers and I are all fortunate to have one another to provide all kinds of support, particularly through lockdown, but we all know there will be some serious and important decisions to make in the next few years. We will need to strike a balance between support and independence. There will also be times when we do not know what to do, or if it is the ‘right’ thing and we will need the support of MS-UK.
As for fundraising, I told my story to those at work, those I run with or who I know run. With so many charities, particularly in 2020, needing more support than ever I didn’t want to appear to pressure them but when explaining the reason for my choice and the impact the support of MS-UK will one day have, people gave what they could.
Simon has raised an incredible £737.53 for MS-UK, here is the link to his fundraising page https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=SimonGardner11&pageUrl=1
If you would like to take on your own challenge to raise money for MS-UK like Simon did, please contact Lucy today on 01206 226500 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We were so disappointed for all of our #TeamPurple runners when it was announced that the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020 was postponed and then ultimately cancelled. However, we were blown away by the level of support from our runners, especially when the news broke that the Virgin Money London Marathon was going virtual for its 40th race.
After opening up our remaining virtual places to past runners and our runners’ friends and family, we had an amazing 100 people taking part on behalf of MS-UK!
On 04 October, they set out all around the UK and even some across the pond in Canada and the USA.
It was great to see how so many of our runners decided to make the event their own. Charlotte, Donna and Mim in Essex, decided to take on the challenge in fancy dress. They decided to run through the decades marking the start of the Virgin Money London Marathon.
They started in the 80s when the London Marathon began, before moving onto Ab Fab for loop three and were feeling magical in their Hogwarts get up as the progressed. They then ran around as various emoji’s before completing their run dressed as NHS staff to honour those who have been working around the clock over the past few months.
Alongside the creativity shown by our runners making their own finishing lines and having lined their routes with the London landmarks, some of #TeamPurple were invited to share their story on the BBC wall and on local radio stations which is truly incredible!
Of course, we cannot talk about the virtual event without sharing the experience of Jodey Hopcroft, who ended up covering a distance of 50 miles instead of the usual 26.2 miles due to a lack of signal for her tracking device. Despite the geological mishap, Jodey has stayed in good cheer and her story went viral after being interviewed by her local newspaper. Her story has since spread to various media outlets including Sky News and BBC, as well as other local and national radio stations and even made international news in India, Sweden and France to name a few. This led to a huge spike in donations to her JustGiving page – well done Jodey!
A huge thank you to all the runners and their friends and family for their continued support during this time, as a result of the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon #TeamPurple raised an additional £30,000!
Monday 10 August 2020 will forever be a memorable day for me, as that was the day I set off on a 1,000-mile bike ride from Yorkshire to Vienna, on my own.
You might be wondering, quite rightly, “Why on earth would you want to do that?” And when I reflect on my achievement, I do sometimes wonder what possessed me to pack up my bike and set off on a solo journey across a continent, which took me from the UK over to the Netherlands, through Germany and into Austria.
The 18-day trip saw me cycle, on average, 70 miles a day through some of the most amazing scenery, tracking alongside the Rivers Rhine and Danube.
I undertook this challenge and adventure for a number of reasons. Firstly, I actually had another cycling trip planned and booked for the summer, however because of the Coronavirus pandemic that had to be cancelled. Instead of just accepting that, sitting back, and doing nothing, as soon as the European borders started to open and the situation had calmed down slightly, I set about planning this trip.
Ever since October 2019, I had wanted to visit Vienna, as it was in that city that Eliud Kipchoge, arguably the greatest marathon runner of all time, completed a sub-two-hour marathon. As a marathon runner myself, I can really relate to just how ridiculously quick that is and how incredible that achievement was. I remember watching him sprinting to the finish line and shedding a tear as Kipchoge achieved a sports milestone given almost mythical status in the running world, breaking through a temporal barrier that many would have deemed untouchable only a few years ago.
Instead of flying to Vienna, I decided my own challenge would be to cycle to the very spot that Kipchoge completed his incredible achievement.
Along the way, I kept a daily blog, mostly to keep my parents informed as to where I was and what had happened that day. The blog, however, picked up some momentum, and soon it was clear that it was more than just Mum and Dad who were reading and enjoying it.
I received an overwhelming amount of support, kind and motivating words from so many people that I knew this journey and adventure wasn’t just for me. I knew I could achieve so much more by harnessing the power of this small community I had inadvertently created. On my penultimate day of riding, I set up my JustGiving page for MS-UK and within a few days raised £1,000. That total now sits at around £1,700, which I am so proud of.
MS-UK is a charity that is very close to my heart. I first got involved with the charity in 2014 when I ran The London Marathon. A very special lady, Mrs B, who has sadly passed away now, lived with multiple sclerosis so I know how devastating the illness can be. She has a very special place in my heart and she doesn’t know it, but I was riding my bike for all those people, like her, who are not able to.
Here is the link to my website which has my full, day by day blog of the trip. I hope you enjoy reading it – please leave a comment if you do! https://yorkshireto.com/
If you’ve been inspired by Jo’s fundraising adventure, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jo-goodall2.
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