We talk to Chris Spriggs about his #WhyIRaise story, and about how all it takes to turn into a fundraising superhero is a positive attitude...
“The idea came to me at three o’clock in the morning when I couldn’t sleep,” says author and fundraiser extraordinaire Chris Spriggs. “It just seemed obvious.”
We’ve been talking to Chris about the amazing charity work he’s been doing for MND Association over the past few years, and how he’s taken some tragic family news and turned it into a motivational way of life. You may never have thought about running a marathon while pushing someone else in a wheelchair, but here’s the man who did…
When Chris’s uncle, 39-time marathon runner Andrew, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), the whole Spriggs family was certain he would never be able to take part in a race again. Well, almost the whole family. Unbeknown to his uncle, Chris had had a revelation: Andrew couldn’t run, but he could still race if pushed in a wheelchair. They could compete together.
And thankfully, Andrew was up for it. That’s how it came to be that in April 2013 the pair completed the Brighton marathon together while also inspiring Chris to start his ThinkSmileRun blog and to write a book, The Reason I Run: How Two Men Transformed Tragedy Into The Greatest Race Of Their Lives. Since then, the two have completed four half marathons and two marathons as a team, and raised an incredible £10,000 for the charity in the process. Most recently, Andrew’s son Paul pushed his Dad in the Brighton Marathon, proving that family fundraising really is contagious!
We’ve unravelled what happens when you send a text to JustTextGiving…
Click here for the full story.
But running (and pushing) is only half the story. This huge amount wasn’t raised solely by the marathoners in the Spriggs clan – it’s a figure that was added to via cake sales and quiz nights run by the whole family. As Chris says: “It shows what can done be when everyone comes together, a real family effort.”
Although he may be being modest there: as a published author on the subject, Chris is a pro when it comes to fundraising. In fact, Chris started his fundraising journey around 8 years ago in 2007, when he completed his first marathon and raised over £4,500 for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of his mother and his close friend, David who died within a few months of each other. He’s also supported Lifespace Trust, a youth mentoring charity he helped set up, and Hope HIV who work with orphans in sub-Saharan Africa.
That’s a whole lot of fundraising for one man, and it’s touching to hear Chris describe the way that it’s impacted him. “It’s changed my whole life,” explains Chris. “Before I began supporting MND Association I knew very little about the disease, but now I’ve met so many wonderful people who have MND and I am much more educated, aware and brave.”
“For me, fundraising is about finding out about other people’s experiences and connecting with them.”
Top fundraising tips
Fundraising hasn’t always been easy for Chris and Andrew – especially when you’re training to push an occupied wheelchair 26.2 miles! For one thing, the standard NHS wheelchair they used was uncomfortable and hurt Chris’ back, prompting them to hire a professional blacksmith to adapt the handles. They’re now more akin to bicycle handles than wheelchair ones, but that same trusty wheelchair has seen them both through to this day, clocking up over 130 miles of racing.
But altered wheelchair handles aside, what tips has Chris got for other budding fundraisers out there?
“People should always remember their reason for fundraising…”
“People should always remember their reason for fundraising,” he advises. “Try and keep the reason clear in your mind and let it motivate and drive you.” He also recommends that fundraisers share and promote their story rather than the event they are taking part in.
“Nowadays there aren’t many fundraising events that are still a novelty, so that novelty has to be the story behind your fundraising; you need to reach out to people’s hearts.”
He also mentions how it’s useful to explain to people, with tangible examples, what the money raised will be used for by the charity: “Take a few moments to make a plan and break a big challenge down into small, more achievable challenges.”
Another key piece of advice: ask those closest to you for help and support. “I loved being a fundraising team with my Uncle Andrew,” says Chris. “He’s been so encouraging and motivating. Although his illness is sad and his mobility is deteriorating, it has also led to something so positive. Being a team together has been fantastic – in one race he even had an air horn to let other runners we were coming through!”
And lastly, using a JustTextGiving text code has made a huge difference to Chris’s fundraising:
“It’s so much easier for people to donate because it can be done instantly,” he says. “You no longer have to go home and remember to log onto to your computer in order to donate.” Chris promotes his text code on the back of his t-shirt whilst he runs, and encourages people to donate then and there at fundraising events. When he was hosting a charity dinner, he asked everyone attending to get out their phone and text to donate on the spot: “That raised over £300 in five minutes! It was fantastic and really created a buzz in the room.”
Now that you’ve heard Chris’s story, why not tell us your own? Get onto Twitter or Facebook and describe your motivations for fundraising using the #WhyIRaise hashtag – and don’t forget to tag @JustTextGiving! We’ll be sharing some of our favourites with our audience and even dishing out the odd prize!