This month’s fundraiser of the month is London Marathon runner Simon Foster, who was nominated by his colleague Samantha Yeend. So far, Simon has raised an immense £27,909 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
As a result of the exceptional amount that Simon has raised, we invited him to give a talk at the London Marathon meet-up that we held earlier this month. He told us a very moving fundraising story, talked about his fundraising experience and shared some good tips – if you missed it you can watch the video.
On Monday we did a quick interview with Simon, luckily he wasn’t too tired to answer our questions!
1. What inspired you to run the marathon?
My friend’s daughter is a lovely 15 year old called Emily. She is a happy smiling bundle of fun and also a little bit mischievous. Emily was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in August last year. Seeing her in Hospital and how scared she was at the time I told her she must Never Give Up. We made a deal (and we shook hands on it too !) – Emily promised me that she would be strong, fight and Never Give Up. In return I promised I’d do something I couldn’t give up either and that was to run the London Marathon.
2. You have raised an absolutely incredible amount, have you been surprised by the amount?
Absolutely staggered and blown away. Never did I think we would raise these sort of sums. To be honest I feel very humbled and deeply touched by everyone’s generosity. What’s more it has not just been people donating, I have been inundated with questions and enquiries after Emily and how she is doing. Emily reads the Justgiving page every day and has drawn great strength from the messages of support and positive thoughts for her. Thanks to Justgiving we have had donations from New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Germany, Switzerland – in fact from all over the world. It’s been brilliant
3. What are your best fundraising tips?
Don’t ask for money ! It sounds strange but just tell your story and why you have been motivated to do this. Another tip is to do something where people feel they are getting something back. I organised a golf day prior to the Marathon. People were happy to pay a slightly higher price for a great day and all profits went to the Charity. It doesn’t have to be something big either, for example if you’re a student why not ask some of your friends to make some cakes and donate them to the cause. Selling them to fellow students for a few pounds each, explaining the reasons behind it gives you instant donations for your cause!
4. Can you tell us more about your charity?
Emily was admitted to a Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) ward at UCH in London. Every day 6 teenagers are diagnosed with some form of cancer. TCT help to create specialist cancer units which give teenagers the best care while also allowing them to be teenagers. This is really important and also give them the chance to mix with people of their own age with similar interests so they can help and support each other during their treatments.
5. How did you find the marathon? Did you hit the wall?
The Marathon was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Before I started this challenge I had never run before, not even 1 mile. On the day it was very hot and by 15 miles my legs felt really tired and were beginning to cramp. They got worse over the last few miles but I kept running. I’m not sure if I hit the wall – I did see other people who seemed to be a worse state than I was so maybe I didn’t.
6. What kept you going to the finishing line?
The crowds were incredible with their constant support and encouragement. Seeing friends and family on the route was a great motivator. I also knew that so many people had supported me so generously and were sending positive thoughts throughout the race. All of these things helped enormously but the main thing that kept me going was that I had made a promise to Emily and there was no way I was going to break my promise.
7. What was your favourite moment?
It’s funny but I thought that crossing the line would be my favourite but it was more of a relief. I have loads of incredible memories of the day which put together make this a very special day as opposed to any single favourite moment.
8. What did you do to celebrate finishing?
I was so tired at the finish line that I was a bit “out of it” – once I’d managed to collect my things I met up with my family and also Emily and her family – it was wonderful to see her looking so well. We had a big hug and I told her “I did it Emily – I didn’t give up”. It was a special moment.
9. Are you glad that the marathon is over or are you itching for more? Is there going to be a next challenge?
Yes I’m glad it’s over and I had my Steve Redgrave moment where I said never again – but many people have told me they said the same at the time so you never know. As for my next challenge well I’ve had lots of people ask me about that plus quite a few suggestions and invitations !! I am currently thinking hard about what to do but one of the areas which I would like to explore is helping people in less privileges countries to help themselves.
10. Where can people sponsor you?
It’s amazing we still have lots of donations coming in, many from people who I don’t even know. Emily’s story seems to have made a big impact on people which is amazing. It’s been an incredible journey so far and of course Emily needs to keep on doing what she has been doing – Keeping Strong, Keeping Positive and most importantly she must Never Give Up. Thank you to Justgiving for being part of our amazing journey and team. The webpage is www.justgiving.com/simonfoster2
Simon finished the marathon in a very impressive 4 hours and 15 minutes – especially considering how hot it was and the fact that he had not run more than mile before he started his training.
Well done and congratulations to Simon, you are a true inspiration. All of our best wishes to Emily – keep fighting.