LAST week more than 150 East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) supporters came together to support the charity through a virtual fundraising challenge: to collectively complete 2000 miles to mark the charity’s 20th anniversary, after it was established in September 2000.
People took part from all over the region – including a supporter who is currently based in New Zealand – to complete an incredible 3,136.96 miles. More than £16,000 has also been raised through the challenge so far, with final sponsorship still to be collected. This has provided a great boost for the charity when all of its regular fundraising events have been postponed to 2021.
Activities ranged from a two-mile walk or run to some individuals running full marathon distances, or ten miles each day of the week. The challenge enabled each person to set a personal goal to help the overall target. A care home in Bury St Edmunds even encouraged its residents to walk one mile each during the week to support the charity.
Participants pledged how many miles they intended to walk or run between 14th and 20th September and submitted evidence of their activity, for their miles to be counted towards the final totals. There were four teams, each led by a frontline member of the EAAA crew as the team captains, to add an extra level of healthy competition and encouragement! A group was also created on the activity app Strava so that participants could view each other’s contributions in real-time and encourage each other throughout the week.
Top fundraisers were also celebrated, with some participants raising in excess of £600. The top fundraiser, an EAAA volunteer, Simon de Laat, raised more than £1,200 for the life-saving charity.
Leanne Kershaw, Events Manager at East Anglian Air Ambulance, said:
“Together We Run has really captured a lot of people’s imagination and actually offered a completely new way for people to get involved in the charity, which we weren’t anticipating.
“Although this event was a virtual challenge, it’s really brought people together while allowing them to set an activity and goal which was personal to them, such as the number of miles home from the hospital after EAAA helped their family, but they have still been part of an EAAA event and worked together to achieve something really impressive. We always hoped we would hit the 2,000-mile target, but to achieve over 3,000 miles together is amazing.
“We’ve really felt, and enjoyed, the community feel of this event, even though the participants were all taking part separately. Some even took part in the Lake District, as part of their holiday, and we had an EAAA supporter who is now based in New Zealand take part, which is something we’ve never experienced before. Participants have also been able to take part as a family, which was really nice, and some people also took the time to plan out their walks or runs in the shape of a helicopter, which really made us smile!
“It’s all been truly inspiring to see the way different people have gotten behind the challenge and we’re just so lucky to have such an incredible team of supporters. We’ve never organised a virtual activity before and didn’t quite know what to expect, but really wanted to be able to offer our supporters something that they could do safely this year in place of our larger Trek 24 and Only The Brave challenge events, which have been unable to go ahead. And, luckily, I don’t think any of our team captains have fallen out during the challenge, although the competition was really close at one point!.”
EAAA has flown almost 30,000 missions since it was established and helped almost 20,000 patients. The charity receives no regular government funding and is hoping to start flying 24/7 next year. The charity has continues flying throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, having not missed any shifts so far this year.
To support EAAA, go to www.eaaa.org.uk