The third annual SportsAid Week saw another magnificent fundraising effort from the charity’s supporters generate over £55,000 to provide backing to the next generation of British sporting talent. The initiative has now raised close to £150,000 since it first took place in 2016 to mark the charity’s 40th anniversary. Next year’s dates have already been announced for 23-29 September as SportsAid Week looks to continue inspiring the country with the stories of young talented athletes!
FUN AND FUNDRAISING
SportsAid’s commercial partners stepped up once again as they showed their support throughout the week, and hordes of Olympians, Paralympians, schools, universities and individual fundraisers all played a key role in another successful campaign. As with each year, the money raised over the course of SportsAid Week helps the charity to support the country’s rising stars as they look to pursue their sporting ambitions and meet the training and competition costs they are faced with.
The Royal Bank of Canada helped kick off SportsAid Week by hosting a private screening of RACE – a film telling the life story of Jesse Owens – at the British Film Institute. Dina Asher-Smith, Leah Williamson and James Wilstrop were in attendance as they headlined a panel discussion passing on their best advice and experience to up-and-coming athletes supported by RBC. Many SportsAid alumni followed suit throughout the week as they chose to actively get involved in the initiative.
Denise Lewis and Mark Foster captained teams in a tennis-a-thon at Stoke Park for the second consecutive year, Etienne Stott led a day of white water rafting with Caesars Entertainment at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, Mark Hunter co-hosted a quiz for RPC staff, and Leon Taylor, Christine Ohuruogu, Anna Hemmings and Reuben Arthur starred in a number of school visits. Leon also ran HIIT classes and yoga sessions at Here East in Stratford for employees based on the complex.
SportsAid ambassadors Laura Wright and John McAvoy continued to demonstrate their strong ongoing commitment to the charity. Laura made her contribution to the #MyMiles Challenge as she joined in the Neat Sweat Class and the Crossfit Shapesmith WOD. John shared his incredible personal story about the transformative power of sport with the Midtown Business Club before giving his backing to the #MyMiles Schools Challenge and supporting the charity’s activity in schools.
The Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre dedicated their weekend hockey league to SportsAid Week while the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead embraced the #MyMiles Challenge by encouraging customers to register the distance covered from runs down the slope. SportsAid athletes Justin and Ella Taylor Tipton made another magnificent effort to run their Charity Ski Jam. A special highlight of the week saw Tom Daley star as the guest of honour at the MK Sporting Lunch Club.
THE #MYMILES CHALLENGE
The return of the #MyMiles Challenge continued to shine a spotlight on the commitment and dedication of up-and-coming sports stars while also encouraging greater levels of engagement as a wide range of fundraising activity was undertaken across the country. The social media campaign was particularly brought to life by 18 current SportsAid athletes as they used their Instagram Story to provide an insight into their training schedules and the challenges they face on a daily basis.
The introduction of the inaugural #MyMiles Schools Challenge, delivered with the support of the European Week of Sport, saw schoolchildren following the example of these young role models by getting active in classes and at lunchtimes. Each pupil donated a pound to SportsAid to take part and the Nottingham Building Society, a long-standing partner of the charity, matched up to a total of £5,000 raised directly through the #MyMiles Schools Challenge and schools-related activity.
There were stand-out efforts from Surbiton High Boys’ Preparatory School, Cheam School, Webber Independent School, Stepney Green Maths and Computing Science College, Chobham Academy, Bobby Moore Academy and Faulkner House as they clocked up miles completing mini-circuits on the playground, on rowing machines and exercise bikes, in the swimming pool and by running and walking through famous sporting venues such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London.
The first-ever #MyMiles Marathon, sponsored by GVC, also took place as Tim Lawler, SportsAid’s Chief Executive, Paralympic champion Danny Crates and Andrew Cohen-Wray, founder of Athlete in Mind, ran a special 26.2 mile route through Buckinghamshire. They started at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, marking the 70 year anniversary of the Paralympic movement, before finishing in 4:20:00 (h:m:s) at the MK Sporting Lunch Club in Milton Keynes where they received a hero’s welcome.
The Sussex Innovation Centre, organised by DOCIAsport with support from Race Nation, pulled members together from across its two sites to make a community contribution to the #MyMiles Challenge. Lunchtime events were held in Falmer and Croydon as the week drew to a close with attendees able to see the miles they had covered, via a live scoreboard designed by CDO Partners, and meet athletes Lizzie Williams, Jahziah Williams, Ricky Lukatome and Khai Riley-La Borde.
An incredible total of 13,981 miles were amassed during SportsAid Week – smashing the 5,741 covered last year. The RBC Ride for the Kids made a major impact towards this figure by helping to launch the Challenge as a team of 47 riders cycled from London to Bruges. On average, a SportsAid athlete will physically cover 43 miles every week under his or her own steam in training. Therefore, 325 young sports stars were kept company through the #MyMiles Challenge in 2018.
THEY SAID IT
“It was nice to get SportsAid support early in my journey - it gave me a massive confidence at a time when I was wondering whether I was good enough to be a full-time athlete. It’s really important for people to keep donating to SportsAid. There are a lot of young people who need financial help. When you want to take your sport further, you need the clothes, equipment, spikes and all the like, there are lots of things that require expense and we can’t have people dropping out due to a lack of funding.”
Dina Asher-Smith, Olympic bronze medallist, SportsAid alumna
“SportsAid is such a great opportunity for so many young kids to be able to have that chance to breakthrough in sport,” said three-time world champion Tom. “I won the One-to-Watch Award in 2006 and received a grant from SportsAid and it’s with that funding that you can make a massive difference. Being able to travel to different competitions, being able to make it as an athlete. It’s so difficult to break through as an elite athlete without any help at all, so SportsAid is there for just that.”
Tom Daley, Olympic silver and bronze medallist, SportsAid alumnus
“I’d just started in the England set-up and I was involved in a number of SportsAid workshops - encouraging and helping us on the journey. They were integral to me and the support I received was unbelievable. My mum made the sacrifices to take me everywhere and for me it was allowed to be just about the football thanks to the work of SportsAid. Women’s football is growing but for most of these guys, funding is so important – they need something just to get them to the start line.”
Leah Williamson, England and Arsenal footballer, SportsAid alumna
“I’ve seen so many athletes come through the ranks, get their first SportsAid grants and go to their first competition. It’s very special. I’ve even been there long enough to see them come through the other end and get to their retirement. SportsAid Week is a fantastic way to showcase these athletes - it’s important that we celebrate them and show that we believe in them. They’re at the point where they need a little bit of support to help push them to the top and that’s where SportsAid steps in.”
Danny Crates, Paralympic champion, SportsAid ambassador
"SportsAid have been supporting me since 2014 - they’ve provided financial support which is helpful when you come from a single parent household and you’ve got three other siblings. They give help to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have a fighting chance – getting the support doesn’t mean you’re automatically the best you can be. You have to work hard and apply yourself. It gave me a chance to go to a better facility, get better training and now I have a Commonwealth gold medal."
Reuben Arthur, Commonwealth champion, SportsAid athlete
“We’re really trying to engage with SportsAid and one of the particular extra things we’ve done with the #MyMiles Challenge is getting everybody to row at least 1,500m or get on the bike for 1,500m. It’s important for them to get into a challenge like that because students are increasingly spending time in classrooms or in front of computers so for them to get the opportunity to be recognised for the extra work they’re doing is really important. Days like this really help us put out what we’re trying to do.”
Martin Smith, Head of PE at Stepney Green Maths and Computer Science College
A huge thank you to everybody that showed their support for SportsAid Week, and all of the commercial partners, organisations, educational establishments, alumni and athletes for their continued backing....
British Film Institute
Chelsea FC Foundation
Faulkner House School
Great Totham Primary School
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre
Lee Valley White Water Centre
Mendip Auction Rooms
Midtown Business Club
Nottingham Building Society
Outwood Post 16 Centre Worksop
Pennington Junior and Infant Schools
Royal Bank of Canada
Snow Centre Hemel Hempstead
St Hugh’s Preparatory School
Stepney Green Maths and Computing Science College
Surbiton High Boys’ Preparatory School
Surrey Legs of Steel
Sussex Innovation Centre
The Football Association
University of Bath
Webber Independent School