In our Fundraiser of the Month article for April, Vic Darnell tells us why she is taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of MS-UK this weekend...and why every step will be for her Dad...
When I was eight years old I remember joining thousands of other people lining the streets of London, waving and cheering as streams of people ran past. At the time I didn't really understand the enormity of what those people were doing, running mile after mile, some fast, some slow, some walking but all in the aim of completing 26.2 miles. Amongst those people was my Dad.
Fast forward a few years and my Dad had to take every ounce of energy he had and a hell of a lot of drugs to pull himself out of his wheelchair and slowly holding tight on to me, walk a few steps down the aisle of a church on my wedding day. He had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) the year before and had his world turned upside down. From being fit and healthy, in the Police to being forced to take early retirement and a complete change of life.
For years after I watched my Dad, I would watch the marathon on TV every year saying to myself 'one day', and since taking up running the itch has needed scratching so I decided the year I turned 40 to make my bucket list dream happen to take part in the most amazing marathon in the world.
As soon as I heard I'd been accepted to run for MS-UK I set the wheels in motion for my fundraising, looking at where I could start generating easy money with little effort whilst I planned a big fundraiser. Sponsorship started coming in as soon as I announced my challenge and as a Slimming World Consultant I have had amazing support from my members for my fundraising. I have a change pot in group and my members along with other groups in Chelmsford, Essex agreed for the next few months to have these for MS-UK. Everyone's odd 5ps, 10ps are really adding up to over £50 a month donated this way. Again members supported through donating their slimmed out of clothes which were swapped for cash and a Christmas raffle in my groups raised £284.
Michelle who runs Chelmer RoadRunners, a local running group which is where I first learned to run completing a couch to 5km course, sings in a local band and I approached her to sing at a charity night I was planning. Seen as she got me into the mess in the first place it seemed fitting to have her at the event! A local pub was the venue (free hire to maximise funds raised!) and with the fabulous entertainment, a raffle to be held. After hundreds of letters, emails and approaching local companies I managed to secure some great donated prizes and started selling raffle tickets to people who couldn't make the night, again to ensure I raised as much as possible. Promotion of the event went out on social media, posters up locally and great support from local papers - three have now printed my story to help further support!
The charity night went well, everyone had a fantastic time and most importantly a brilliant £1,186.06 was raised to bring my total fundraising over my initial aim of £2,500 - but I'm not stopping there - a sweepstake planned, further change pots and sponsorship will hopefully bring the total to £3,000, or more! Every penny will help MS-UK give amazing support to people like my Dad.
So now, the countdown is on till the big day itself where I shall be so proud to be running the same streets that my Dad did in 1986 (but not accepting his challenge of beating his time of 3 hours 35 minutes!)