When Seb was diagnosed with a life threatening heart defect, Nadine and I felt more scared than at any time in our lives. The following weeks and months leading up to and immediately after his surgery the world was a dark and lonely place for us. After Seb underwent successful surgery we spoke about doing something to repay the ‘miracle-makers’ at the Freeman for saving our boy. I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday, as we sat in PICU looking at Seb clinging to life. Fast forward to 21st-24th July 2013 and I have never felt less alone or helpless.
What our C2C4 team contributed over the course of those 4 days, was something truly unique. Each and every one of the team (participants and support crew) arrived with a positive attitude; not only were they about to take on the hardest C2C ever, but they were determined to do so in the right spirit. It is not enough to raise loads of money CHUF (Children’s Heart Unit Fund), or to challenge yourself physically and mentally; for this to work it has to grab you by the heart strings.
Over the course of the 4 days the team achieved the following:
Cycle 140 miles, swim 1 mile open water and run 63 miles; within this each of them climbed over 16,000 feet, took 150,000 steps, drank 500 litres of water and electrolyte, consumed thousands of calories, suffered cuts, blisters, severe injuries and one team member was even taken to hospital to be put on a drip, due to extreme dehydration and exhaustion! Throughout there was never a question about making it to the end at Tynemouth and they never lost sight of why they were doing it.
Whilst many believe our society is in a trough of negativity and self destruction, events of the last week confirms my faith in the human spirit. Over the course of the last three and a half years with the help of our amazing friends and family we have raised £317,000 for CHUF; this is game changing money for a charity of its size.
How on earth then, have a relatively small number of people raised so much money; especially when most have no personal link to the Heart Unit? I believe the answer is threefold: firstly people seem to have connected with our story, Seb and the way we have shared our lives with those who care to listen; secondly when you set extraordinarily ambitious goals you discover like minded competitive individuals gravitate towards each other. Finally and I believe crucially, because of how we have committed to spending the money we raise. Our first £33,000 purchased vitally important pieces of equipment that would directly impact on the health of children like Seb. Since then we have set ourselves the target of raising another £300,000 to fund the complete re-build of the playroom and outside play area attached to Ward 23.
This means we don’t raise money to pay for logistics on our challenges (we always receive commercial support i.e. C2C4 Sponsors – Utilitywise), we don’t pay administration costs and we don’t allow the money to disappear into a bigger pot of general funds. Instead we have committed to every single person who has ever supported us that we will guarantee exactly where their money goes. In this day and age that is a fairly special statement to be able to make!
But what does all of this actually mean? Well, it means there is a tangible output to your fundraising, donations and support. It means that when we have built this state-of-the-art play facility YOU will have positively impacted on the lives of more children than you can possibly imagine. Children can spend weeks and sometimes months on the Heart Unit waiting for or recovering from major heart surgery. During this time they are not interested in their medical state; they are dreaming of enjoying life and just being children! All they want to do is play, read, colour, draw, laugh and smile. By providing the best play facilities possible, we will be allowing these children to do the one thing that is crucially important to them and their loved ones – helping them smile.
So when this chapter of our fundraising is over; whether you have run a Marathon, cycled up a mountain, baked some cakes or generously donated some time or money, you can feel content that you made a difference to some very poorly children’s lives.
When the time comes for Seb’s next heart surgery and I am watching him play in the facility that we helped to build, I will probably sit next to him with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face. Because of this we will forever be in your debt and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
You can follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Seb4chuf