A record breaking year for fundraising

June 1, 2010

By Steve Lee

I am very proud of my sports club, Reading Roadrunners. My team mates had a good year at marathons, halves, 10Ks and the like, but they also found time to collect a cool £43K plus for the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund (JHMRF).

The Club picks a different charity each year at its February AGM. Autism, epilepsy, cancer and strokes, you name it, we have probably collected for it at one point. Last year I persuaded the Club to adopt the JHMRF – not that they needed much persuading, because as soon as I broke the news that I myself have mesothelioma, they rallied round.

Not only have they given me support though what has been a hard year health-wise, but they also pulled out all the stops to achieve a fundraising record – the most the Club has ever raised in a single year. This was even more gratifying as in the course of the year, on my watch as charity coordinator, the magic milestone of 400K in 20 years of fundraising was passed.

I was deeply honoured when as many as five JHMRF Trustees attended our dinner dance this February (2010), at which traditionally the ceremonial handover of the cheque to the outgoing charity takes place. Mind you, I barely made it myself, as it came at the tail end of four lots of chemotherapy over the Christmas period. I was too weak to dance and thin as a rake – down to 60 kilos from my usual 72. Nevertheless I managed to make a speech summing up the year – and was rewarded by Trustee Vanessa Bridge’s announcement that a “Steve Lee Mesothelioma Research Fellowship” was being set up!

Since then I have mercifully put on weight and generally improved to an amazing degree. A few months back I thought I was a goner – whereas now I am back jogging again, albeit slowly. I am convinced that my 25 years of distance running has helped me fight this dreadful disease – indeed, I did two half marathons even after diagnosis, together with my wife Ros, who has done so much to nurse me back to a degree of fitness.

So how did we collect all that dosh? Individual sponsorships raked in a good few thousand. Besides my own effort (running 13 miles effectively on one lung), one colleague swam the Hellespont (aka the Dardanelles), in the footsteps – or rather the wake – of Lord Byron! Another colleague tackled Mount Snowdon, despite recovering from a motorbike accident. Car boot sales organised by the Club accounted for another £8,000 plus. (Besides having our own stall, the local council allows us to profit from the cars’ entry money). Bucket collections, raffles, refreshments at events – and even a spot of busking – make up the rest, on the basis that every little counts! In other words, we never let slip an opportunity to raise a bob or two!

Even after the accounting period was officially closed, monies have continued to trickle in. One of our girls recently organised her second mini indoor Triathlon at a local gym, raising some £350 in entry fees. This will be matched by Microsoft, the company she works for.

Also, some extra cash is expected to be generated from sales of the Red Hot Bagels CD and Kathy Tytler’s intriguing book of Running Verse.

The Bagels fall under the “world music” category – or more specifically Klezmer – an East European Jewish style. Their new album Big Bang costs £10, of which they will give £8 to the JHMRF. To find out more and to buy please visit www.myspace.com/redhotbagels

The proceeds of Kathy’s book – “Achieving some sort of Work Life Balance” – likewise go to the JHMRF. To find out more visit www.justgiving.com/Kathy-Tytler or contact Kathy by email.

Please let us all continue to give the JHMRF fund all the support it deserves in the coming years!