In September 2016 I turned 40, and as with many of my peer group I decided that this was the year that I would run a marathon. I started running about three years earlier and had run 3 half marathons, but never a full marathon.
2017 was going to be my year to do it! I had no idea where to start. I had never even seen the marathon on television. One of the mums from my son’s school ran the marathon last year and suggested that I contact the charity she raised money for, Whizz-Kidz.
I was vaguely familiar with Whizz-Kidz, but I did not know the full scope of services that they provided to young people and their families. However I knew I wanted to raise money for an organization that helped children and was very lucky to receive a place on their 2017 team.
I was not intimidated by the training. That was going to be the easy part. I already ran 3-4 times and week and saw a personal trainer twice a week. All I had to do was slowly increase my runs, tailor my workouts to strength training and core work, and bang, I will be running through the streets of London like a wild woman come April. I was going to finish within 4 hours and that was that. Easy as pie! The thing that worried me was the idea that I had to somehow convince people to donate £1,900 to this wonderful charity. I was so scared to approach people.
There is a saying in life, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ So I set up my ‘Everyday Hero’ page and sent a link to all of my friends and then announced that I was raising money for charity on Facebook. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of people right off the bat. By December, I had already raised about £900. But I knew I did not just want to rely on asking people to donate. In March 2017 I held a fundraiser at a local restaurant in North London called Prader. It is owned by friends of mine, and the event was just wonderful! They donated the entire restaurant for the event and we had a live Cuban Salsa band, yummy cocktails, canapés, bowl food, and a massive amount of desserts. I called in favours from friends, canvased the local shops and put together 15 prizes for a raffle. We also had a lovely Entertainment Company, Safowa Events, donate a photo booth for the evening. It took about 7 weeks to put together, but in the end, I hosted a fabulous fundraiser that raised over £1,000! I reached my target, but I did not stop there. I continued to promote Whizz-Kidz sponsorship through my son’s school, my husband’s work, social media, and anyone who was basically within earshot. In the end I raised over £3,400!
It turned out that the fundraising was easier than the actual marathon! A month before the race I was struck with the worst case of bursitis. I felt a shooting pain in my right hip every time I took a step; the thought of running was unbearable. After a month of physio, weekly deep tissue massage, and 2 cortisone injections, I showed up on race day not knowing if I would make it to the finish line. But, I was determined to try. I raised so much money, and told half of North London and everyone on Facebook I was running the London Marathon, I could not back down now. The first 13-14 miles was perfect. I did not feel any pain. I was running at a good pace and enjoying the crowd. And then something changed…all of a sudden I started feeling a sharp pinch in my right hip. For about 2 miles I was able to deal with the pain, but I must have been overcompensating on my left side, because by mile 15 my left knee and hamstrings started to hurt. Not to mention, my feet were on fire! It felt like I was pulling a muscle in my hamstring with every stride. But I was determined not to stop. I was no longer chasing a time; I was just chasing the finish line. For the next 11 miles I would run until it felt like my hamstring was going to pop and then I would walk it off. Walk. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. Run. About 200 yards from the finish line, I thought I wouldn’t be able to go any further. A wonderful gentleman grabbed my hand and said, “you can do this;” he helped me across the finish line.
My time: 4:48:12
Fast forward to November 2017 and I have signed up for the 2018 London Marathon and I will be doing it for Whizz-Kidz again. Last year when I was organising the fundraiser, attending workshops and events, I got to know the Whizz-Kidz team, and meet the young people and families who benefit from the charity. Seeing who the money is going to and understanding how much the organization impacts their lives was eye-opening. In September I was at a Bar Mitzvah and was talking with another guest whom I just met. During our conversation she shared with me that her youngest daughter has Cerebral Palsy and had received a wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz. When I told her that I recently ran the London Marathon for Whizz-Kidz she gave me the biggest hug and said thank you. It was in that moment that I knew that whether I was successful in the ballot or not, I would be running for Whizz-Kidz again.
I will be sending everyone I know my 2018 sponsorship page and announcing on Facebook and Instagram that I am running the 2018 London Marathon. I am also going to have another fundraiser this year. I am planning to make it bigger and better than last year. I would love to raise twice as much money this time around. I also plan to have a coffee morning at my house and possibly get my son’s involved this year in the fundraising process. I am also aiming to improve my race time and start injury free!
There are so many ways to raise money and get the word out. People are generous and want to help, especially when they know about the charity and its beneficiaries. When asking people to sponsor you, it is very import to have information about the charity, so you can articulate what the charity do, when it started, why the charity does the work that it does, and where the money goes. Also, think outside of the box. There are loads of people asking for sponsorship for different events and charities.
Here are a few suggestions for you below if you need some inspiration. Good luck #TeamWhizzKidz
- Bag groceries at the supermarket
- Quiz or Game Night
- Wine and Cheese tasting
- Casino or movie night
- Coffee morning or bake sale