Fundraising Diaries - "I Cycled from London to Rome"

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Fundraising Diaries -

Fundraising Diaries - "I Cycled from London to Rome"

Going that extra (1,500) mile(s) for Cancer Research

1,500 miles, 18 days, two 18 year olds, no support vehicle, four countries and one mountain range. If I was to sum up the start of my gap year, that's how it would go.

Along with my school pal Hugh Richardson, I am about to kick off my gap year by embarking on the greatest challenge of my life so far - completely in aid of Cancer Research. The decision to do some fundraising for this cause had already been made in my mind when a close friend of mine - of the same age - was diagnosed with cancer. The aim was to find a suitably ambitious and physically challenging task that would impress people we asked enough so that we could raise as much money as possible for the charity. After all, the primary way of getting sponsorship is to impress people by being ambitious and doing something completely out of the norm.

At first things started slowly with the fundraiser. The other guys at school found it funny, saying that it was a silly idea that would never happen. However, thanks mainly to Hugh's enthusiasm, it became a very real prospect. We both worked off our strengths. Hugh is good with finances and was quick to gain attention to our cause. I then had the idea of emailing the school Headmaster to ask for permission to speak in front of the 750 strong school in Tuesday chapel. This was undoubtedly the best move so far, as we have received nearly £4,000 just from the school, which was due to publicising our trip as much as possible.

Getting publicity in the local media is very important - as we have found out. After appearing in around 10 local newspapers, we got our big break when we were contacted by this very site and asked if we would like to write an article that would featured on about our fundraiser. The good news kept on coming when The Mail on Sunday got in touch and said they would like to do a full page spread on us and they sent a photographer promptly round two days after. Just by getting our faces in the local press, all of that happened. It just goes to show.

The good news just kept on coming in, with Audi offering to give us a bike free of charge and my excellent local gym - Rossi's Gym in North Walsham - agreeing to sponsor our clothing. Also Hot Brand in Norfolk worked in unison with Rossi's to create a website for us which also helped boost our profile by giving us some more publicity.

As for the challenge; neither of us have cycled more than eight miles in one go before, which is why we chose this challenge as it is something that we have both yet to accomplish. We are both major sportsmen, who love to push ourselves and our bodies whenever we can and this just seemed like such an almighty challenge to set ourselves - although we are more than up for it.

The reason that we decided to take up this fundraising event was because unfortunately cancer had affected both Hugh and myself. He has suffered the loss of his grandfather and I have had a very close friend diagnosed at a young age. This spurred us on to try and do something about it. Plus it is a huge adventure and something that we are both nervous about but looking forward to hugely.

If anyone is planning on undertaking some fundraising, here are a few tips that I would give.

Use your contacts - and your friend's contacts and your parent's contacts... It is very hard to get anything out of companies otherwise. Get as much publicity as possible. Write to every newspaper, TV station and radio station you know - you might not hear back from the majority, but all it takes is one and your sponsorship is boosted hugely. When we started, we never thought that The Mail would be interested in our story... Sell yourself by having something you stand out from others with. Ours is an immense physical challenge but if that's not your bag come up with something completely wacky or mad. It's got to make people interested - enough so they give it the time of day and open their wallets. Although the cliches like sitting in a bath of beans might work, they will never raise you as much as sitting in something less obvious - like treacle!

Those are the things that I have learnt whilst fundraising for this trip and now we just have to achieve what others thought was impossible. We've already raised almost £4000 toward the trip - all of which through fundraising and donations. We hope to double this amount by the end of the trip. It just goes to show you what can be achieved when you put your mind to it. And as for the epic cycle ride; I can't think of a more amazing way to start our gap years..."

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