It’s taken me over two months to write this final blog, but with the head space I need to write it, and immersed in the inspiration of the Lake District, I feel I can now reflect on the journey Step Into My Shoes has taken me on.

 

Where it all began…

It’s crazy to think that this time last year, an idea planted itself inside my subconscious mind and often I would daydream of the challenges that lie ahead. To be honest, I don’t know where 10 came from, there’s no reasoning behind it but it sounded the right number for this year. Next was, what am I going to do? Thinking of my fitness level and physical strength at that time, I wanted something that would challenge me of course, but also give other people the opportunity to take part with me. I did my research and came up with 10 events dotted around Yorkshire and the surrounding areas of Swindon.

I had already made my mind up of whom I wanted to fundraise for, Swindon Interactive Arts Service (SwIAS) being one of the charities. SwIAS is a group for adults with learning disabilities who provide stimulating and skills based activities. A charity set up by my inspirational mum, which my sister attends. I have always been very fond of SwIAS and proud of my mum for setting it up. They are constantly looking for funding so I wanted to do my little bit to help.

The other charity being Carers Leeds, whom provides support for 72,000 unpaid carers in Leeds. Having worked with carers, supporting them with their own health and wellbeing, I have gained a better understanding the issues they face; Mental Health being the leading health concern faced by carers in Leeds. For this reason, the money raised will go towards helping these carers.

My next step after this was social media. Social media is an effective way to capsulate an audience and market what you’re doing. I was fortunate to work with a close friend of mine who put together a website and produced the branding.

 

Preparations underway

January 2017 arrived and I was all set, ready for the next fundraising stage. As many people often don’t see, a lot of preparation went into getting to this point alone. Looking back now, it has reminded me just how much I put into this. I believe that the harder your efforts are, the more productivity and opportunity you get back from it. In addition, my end results highlights this perfectly.

Just before my 26th birthday, I launched my fundraiser. Getting friends and family on board, I pushed out my launch video across social media, which I co-produced with Val Hewison, CEO of Carers Leeds. It was a great success and with over 1000 views, Step Into My Shoes 2017 was spreading.

Training had begun and I had a few months before my first event in April. This gave me time to plan the next few months ahead. With always having my goals at the back of my mind, how would I rasie £5,000 throughout these 7 months, I knew depending on donations was not going to be enough. Therefore, I began to think of other avenues. Sponsoring through big cooperation’s, holding community fundraising events, holding an auction, etc. I spoke to many people to gain insight knowledge of what worked and didn’t work. With limited amount of time, deciding which fundraising ideas would be more effective was hard and with so many ideas out there it made it even harder.

In the end I decided to choose fundraising events that were quick and easy to plan and which brought in good chunks of money at a time. Having Leeds and Swindon to fundraise within was effective but it also had its challenges.  The main success of these events were the team of people I had helping me pull everything together. In the end, I had decided to put a couple of fundraising events in each location to reach out to as many people as possible.

In Swindon, I put on a skittles do, my dad organised a community fete, where I held a raffle and stall and SwIAS did their very own sponsored walk.

In Leeds, I utilised Carers Week to promote Step Into My Shoes. I had a day of bag packing, and static cycling at our various stalls across the city. Our biggest money-maker was the raffle, spreading it across Swindon and Leeds meant I could reach more people, raising over £1,000 in selling tickets. All our prizes were donated from local businesses and from the community.

Meanwhile, whilst planning for these events, I tried to keep everyone updated of my training progress, fundraising events, giving out health tips and advice and spreading the message of what I was doing through various videos and posts on social media. It took a lot of time and dedication to keep content moving, and at times was extremely hard, especially when full time work and personal life events are thrown in the mix. Nevertheless, with my motivation and determination I did it!

 

Taking on each challenge month by month

Now that all my plans were in place, all that was left to do was to actually complete all 10 challenges! I can proudly say that I completed all 10 challenges with the support of many people. The hardest but my proudest event was the 10th and final challenge – Yorkshire Marathon. 26.2 miles is a long way and as you can imagine, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. 5 hours and 4 minutes later, I crossed the finish line in complete disbelief. I had not only completed my 1st ever marathon, but I had completed all 10 challenges for Step Into My Shoes 2017.

Each challenge has been unique within itself, and I have had the privilege of making memories with the supporters and people I completed the challenges with. I have loved completing each and every challenge. So without further ado – what we have all been waiting for…

 

Drum Roll Please & Thank you!

Step Into My Shoes 2017 Fundraiser is pleased to announce that our GRAND TOTAL is: £7,000!

I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who donated, gave up their time to help me with my fundraising events and who took part alongside me in my challenges. Without everyone’s support, this wouldn’t have been possible. I’m super proud and ecstatic that we have raised this considerable amount of money for two life-changing charities.

I also want to thank my close family who’ve supported and been there for me every step of the way. It’s been a fantastic year and I’m very lucky to have shared this journey with everyone. I may have crossed the finish line for Step Into Shoes 2017, but it’s not the end – who knows what 2018 will bring…