JustGiving say that over 320,000 individual donations have been made so far – 15% up on last year – totalling £11.5 million, with social sharing the main contributing factor to this growth. My good friend Catherine Raynor will be one of the runners on Sunday. She’s about to smash the £5,000 sponsorship mark on her JustGiving page. A large part of her success is undoubtedly down to the incredibly moving emails she has sent to those who have
sponsored her (and those who have yet to) about her personal marathon story.
In this spirit of social sharing, I thought I’d share some excerpts from the emails, along with the fundraising tips that leapt out at me while reading them.
1. Tell me what moved you to do this
It’s been two weeks and two days since my last update. It doesn’t feel like very long ago does it? It is exactly the same amount of time between when my sister-in-law Julie’s Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and when he died.
John was Dad to Julie and Kerry, father-in-law to my brother Mark and Kerry’s husband Richard and he was ‘Pop’ to my gorgeous niece Olivia and to her cousins Sammy and Jessica. He was at the heart of an incredibly close family. It was a family that had virtually no warning that its structure would soon change forever. That is the reality of pancreatic cancer.
Wow. Catherine describes not just the charity she’s running for, or even one person, but the whole family.
2. Tell me about the tough days
So, February, that most dismal of months: how has it been? Not amazing. On top of the weather there’s been niggles in my foot and a grotty chesty cold that put paid to some training runs.
I’ve also been overcome with emotion while listening to particularly inspiring TED Talks (I don’t recommend trying to cry, run and breathe at the same time!) and I’ve flopped on a park bench to read uplifting blogs on how to survive training slumps when it all got too much during one long run recently. But I sit here writing this with 13.09 miles on the clock today and all being well (and with continued bloody-minded plodding!) in six weeks’ time it will be double that.
Most people don’t understand how difficult training can be. Hearing about those tough days should give people more reason to support you.
3. Tell me about the funny days
Of course, there’s been lots of brilliant and funny bits too! Being told to “work it baby” by a jogging Grandma at 6.30am will stay in the memory for a long time, as will the time I found myself in an impromptu ‘Downward Dog’ yoga position in Dulwich Park after being taken down by an overly-friendly golden retriever.
And while in Nigeria I had a conversation that I will never ever forget:
Peace: “What has happened to your toenail?”
Catherine: “I started running and it was too long, so it’s gone a bit funny.“
Peace: “You are running! Are you SERIOUS? How far? A few metres?“
Catherine: “No, I’m training for a marathon.“
Peace: “Oh my! God have mercy on you, running with your weight.“
And you thought I was direct!
The funny stories are heartwarming, and give the readers something to look forward to every time they see an email from Catherine.
4. Tell me *how* my donation makes a difference
But my facts, figures and anecdotes are not the important ones. These ones are:
- Over the 16 weeks that I have been training, 2,576 people have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
- On current survival rates only 104 of them will still be alive in five years’ time.
But what has also happened over the last 16 weeks is that Pancreatic Cancer UK has successfully campaigned to have a new drug made available on the NHS;
- £500,000 is currently being spent on 7 research grants and applications for a further 38 have been received
- Almost 100 health professionals have signed up to training sessions in how to detect early signs of pancreatic cancer
- 10 million viewers tuned into the Hayley storyline on Coronation Street, which was developed with the charity.
In short, stuff is happening. Policy is changing, research is underway, professional skills are being developed, and public awareness is on the up.
Catherine does so much more than just tell us what charity your donation will go to – she goes into great detail to explain that your donation will add to an unstoppable movement that’s already saving people’s lives.
5. Tell me again what moved you to do this
I met John just a handful of times so I only got to know him a little, but to me one thing that shone through the most was his sense of humour. The last time I saw him was outside Julie and Mark’s house and I was tumbling noisily out of a car – I was soon at the receiving end of a kindly quip about my general lack of elegance. If he could see me huffing and puffing red-faced through my training plan he’d definitely have something to say!
Heartwarming and poignant all at once. John is described so vividly that I never tire hearing about him.
6. Don’t forget to ask me for money
My running number and final instructions for registering arrived yesterday – it’s all feeling scarily close now.
Thanks to all of you who have already spurred me on my way and if you haven’t yet given but would like to, here is the link: www.justgiving.com/
After such an emotional rollercoaster, I was more than happy to donate to Catherine, and I urge you to support her too.
Good luck to all the runners!