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We are one myeloma community: fundraising to ensure vital work continues

22nd June 2020 // Helen Quigley

Looking back, it felt like we were making real progress, following our well thought through community fundraising plan that we’d worked so hard on months before.  The ideas and opportunities ahead meant we were on track to raise even more money for our work throughout 2020.  As a team, we were enthusiastic and confident; we were looking forward to supporters participating in iconic sporting and active events like the London Marathon, Edinburgh Marathon Festival, the Great North Run and Kiltwalk, to name only a few.  Our annual London Paris Ride was set up and ready to go between 16 and 20 September where over 100 cyclists would once again make their way to Paris over four days, raising thousands of pounds on their way.  In addition to this, we had many wonderful events to look forward to being organised by supporters right across the UK – golf days, dinners, lunches, coffee mornings, cake sales, cycles, walks – our calendar was certainly filling up and the events were many and varied!  It was only March and we had lots of great fundraising activity ahead – what could possibly go wrong?

Everything changed

Then almost overnight the fundraising landscape changed.  COVID-19 meant that most, if not all, of our community fundraising plans for the year had to either be put on hold or cancelled altogether.  We saw an immediate and abrupt drop in income.   At the same time, our priority was to meet the urgent need of patients and their families at this most worrying time, to ensure that information and support was available when it was needed the most.  This spike in demand for our services alongside the drastic fall in income meant we had to think differently and fast.

Inspiration in isolation

Despite the challenges we were truly inspired by our myeloma community, friends and families who didn’t let us down.   When the UK went into lockdown on 24 March, they came up with lots of amazing and innovative ways to keep fundraising during this period. Many of them showed their loved ones how much they cared and missed them by completing a range of creative challenges.

The balcony marathon, for example, where along an 11-metre balcony in Greenwich, Ruth, Charles, Deborah, and James would usually watch the marathoners run below their flat. This year with no London Marathon taking place, they decided to complete it themselves. Charles was diagnosed with myeloma in December 2019 and the family were so overwhelmed with the support they received from Myeloma UK that they felt it was appropriate to set themselves a fun challenge and give back so that we could continue to support others. On Sunday 26th April, each family member got ready and took their turn to walk along the balcony: 26.2 miles was completed on the balcony in 46,141 steps – a total of 3,500 turns raising over £16,000!

We have had lots of children fundraising for us during the last couple of months, including a family of four children who decided to front flip a distance of 3km – the equivalent to the length of Manchester Airport Runway one. Kieran and Lucy, who live in Nottingham, and Holly and Joshua, who live in Las Vegas, wanted to show support to their Grandad and mark his love of flying by flipping the distance for him. The children had to complete 400 flips per day between them for 30 days. Their ideas and efforts were spanning continents!

Leading on from the flipping grandchildren, sisters Clara and Elin challenged themselves to a Read-a-thon to remember their Great Uncle Mike. The girls took themselves to their home library and managed to read 70 books in a single day!

Natalie and her two daughters, Esther and Iris, decided to show support to their family friend by getting creative with the 2.6 challenge and had a 26.2-hour Silence-a-thon! They started at 7am on the Saturday morning, completing a total of 19,208 steps throughout the day which consisted of three dog walks, an audible book, planting out their veg patch, acrylic canvas painting, a game of French cricket and spraying painting an outbuilding… all with only a couple of accidental blurt outs! The girls wore printed signs on their backs when out for their walks to let people they encountered know what they were doing, and they weren’t being rude! Come 7.12am on Sunday morning there was plenty of chatter once again between Natalie, Esther, Iris and their dogs!

With many running, walking and active events being cancelled or postponed due to strict lockdown rules, we had individuals like Kate who was due to run a half marathon get her family involved in an exercise fundraiser. The Rutherford family all participated via Zoom from their own homes and gardens in the UK and Australia, and completed a gruelling 26 challenges 26 times.

Benny and his friend Will braved the blazing heat on a hot Sunday in May and completed a marathon in Benny’s back garden in Musselburgh.  They ran 416 non-stop laps around the garden covering 26.21 miles and raised over £8k for Myeloma UK as a result!

We’ve also had a range of other virtual events like coffee mornings and quiz nights and our step challenges have covered the equivalent steps to climbing Slieve Donard, Scafell Pike, Snowdon and Ben Nevis!

We are so grateful for our creative supporters who haven’t let lockdown get in the way of raising money for Myeloma UK.  We can’t thank you enough for your ideas and enthusiasm helping us through the last few months.

Myeloma Awareness Week 2020

There is no doubt that it will take some time for fundraising activity to fully recover from the impact of COVID-19 and that’s why it’s more important than ever to encourage involvement right now.   One of the ways to do this is to join in this year’s Myeloma Awareness Week activity, where we are asking supporters to organise their very own Big Community Night In or to pledge to do something later in the year (of course they can do both if they wish!)  We understand that organising an event might not be available to everyone right now, so these all-important pledges could help transform our fundraising as we enter the second part of the year.

Together with our amazing supporters, we will rebuild our fundraising community and look forward to picking up where we left off in March 2020 – populating that calendar of many and varied fundraising activities across the UK – and working together to make myeloma history.

Your support makes all the difference.