Charity Fundraising & remembering ‘the 13 Challenge’

It’s always interesting to read about other people’s challenges to themselves in order to raise money for charity. More often than not, following a major event in their life. It’s usually something that’s affect them directly, or someone close to them. It acts like a catalyst to galvanise the individual into action.

My own fund-raiser: the 13 Challenge

I undertook my own multi-event challenge to raise money for a charity called MyelomaUK back in 2013.

In 2012 I ran the Greater Manchester Marathon to raise money for this charity. At the time my husband was battling a rare form of blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma. It was an opportunity to raise both money and awareness about this horrible illness. Six weeks after I completed the marathon, Mark passed away.

Despite knowing he was gravely ill, his passing was a shock to us all. It spurred me on to want to raise more money. It wasn’t until the end of 2012 that I came up with something that I could engage with. This engagement I believe to be extremely important. If I’m enthusiastic it will be easier for me to inspire others about what I’m doing. And hopefully raise more funds for the charity.

My first draft of possible events. Some of them even made it to the final list!

What was ‘the 13 Challenge’?

The project was all around the number 13. Traditionally seen as an unlucky number, I wanted to do something positive around it. Aside from that, the project was to be undertaken during 2013.

The initial premise was to run 13 half marathons in 2013. A half marathon is, of course, 13.1 miles. And you can see the 13 theme already! The brief grew further by finishing with a 10 miler to represent the 0.1m of a half-marathon. I was persuaded into riding the Manchester-Blackpool ride with a group from work. So that got added. Finally, I realised if I added a 10k the total mileage would be divisible by 13!

The challenge was thus set:

After each race I completed a blog post. I’ve linked them all together in the list above.

At the end of the challenge, I did a wrap up post which you can read here.

I’ve had a nice time revisiting each of the posts. As with any race there are complications or things going wrong. There are the silly moments that I’m glad I recorded as they’d be forgotten otherwise.

Most of the race numbers!

Should I do a challenge?

I mentioned above that to raise money you need to be enthusiastic about the cause. If you’re not, how are you going to ‘sell’ what you’re doing to others and make them want to donate.

I’d say you need to do something which is going to push you. But nothing too silly. You want a realistic chance of success after all, otherwise it’ll be a short and fraught journey!

If you do a single-event for charity, it’s easier to keep the focus for your sponsors. Everyone knows when the event is and that build up is easier to manage. There is an obvious start and an equally obvious finish. On the other hand, something like ‘the 13 Challenge’ took up 11 months. So it was important to provide the updates so people knew what was going on.

I’m embarrassed to admit the time it took to assemble this!

Remember your focus

One big thing hit me doing the challenge. Although I had lots of generous people putting their hand in their pocket, the ‘journey’ itself was a lonely one. Seriously lonely. I went to a lot of different events, but on the whole I was doing the event on my own. There were a few where friends did the event as well, but mostly it was just me. And a lot of other people I didn’t know (of course). But even to the point where I finished the last race, it was a point of ‘that’s it – done!’. No party, no finish line greeters.

Is that a problem? No not really. I think you get used to seeing various ‘big’ events on the TV or online. Due to their nature of attracted interested, more people ‘get involved’. And as such a bigger thing is made of the finale.

Ultimately I was raising money to help fine a cure for Multiple Myeloma. No cure exists, 4 years on from ‘the 13 Challenge’. People are still being diagnosed and living with the illness and all the complications that come with it. So perhaps to expect a fanfare at the end of a personal project is a bit self-indulgent. There’s still plenty more work that needs to be done before the battle is truly won.

Some of the events had participation medals.

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