How do you go from running novice to marathon master? That's what we've been asking Karen Edgar, Vodafone's latest fundraising star. Read on for her top tips...
“Well, I just love running!” For Vodafone’s Karen Edgar, the answer to #WhyIRaise is that simple. And it’s hard not to believe her; by her own admission she’s ‘running her heart out’ for charity, but it’s her track record that proves it. In the last year she’s completed the Manchester 10K and two half marathons, and has another two on the horizon. She’s consistently smashed her PBs with every race she’s entered, and naturally, she’s earned herself a set of “runners’ legs,” the envy of her friends.
But running hasn’t always been her raison d’être, and coming a bit later to the game is what makes Karen’s story so inspiring. Want to know the secret to lacing up and getting out there, no matter what your age? Read on to find out…
‘Miles bring smiles’
Karen took up running and fundraising seriously at the age of 40 – the age by which most professional athletes have hung up their trainers. But she shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, she firmly believes that failure is not an option:
“Once I plucked up the courage to register for my first ever half marathon there was no holding me back,” she says, explaining that running helped her turn a charity into something positive. “I found that if you choose a charity close to your heart you will find the strength and courage to do whatever it takes to raise funds.”
The charities close to Karen’s heart are Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support, the latter being particularly special due to the care they gave to her family before and after her mum’s passing. And – proving that where there’s a will there’s a way – she’s already raised close to £500 through her JustGiving page and JustTextGiving text code, with Vodafone agreeing to donate an additional £350 as part of our employee support scheme.
There are countless ways to raise for a cause you care about, but for Karen, raising through running was an obvious choice: “I thought, why don’t I use this amazing enthusiasm I have to raise funds for such good charity? Miles bring smiles,” she adds – her personal fundraising mantra.
Her excitement is contagious, too, so it’s no surprise that despite tales of achey limbs and stiff joints, she’s convinced plenty of pals to pop on their running shoes along the way: “My brother and his friend ran the Men’s 10k in Glasgow for Macmillan on Fathers’ Day in June 2015,” she tells us.
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So what’s her secret? How do you go from novice to fundraising powerhouse in such a short space of time? It’s easy, says Karen: you just need to have a can-do attitude:
“People seem amazed at my non-stop attitude to raising money for this amazing charity, but if you really want to help a worthy cause then just get out there and do it – your input will benefit them no matter how big or small the amount you raise. You never know when you might rely on that charity yourself, so go for it! Don’t make it a dream; make it a reality.”
Karen’s also testament to the fact that not everyone’s fundraising reality need involve sweatbands and water bottles, and that there’s more than one way to raise awareness. “I intend to host a cocktail evening and arrange a walk at my local park for my 50th birthday,” she says, “with local businesses donating gifts for me to raffle. I’ve also contacted my local newspaper and asked if they’d put an article in about my fundraising, why I’m doing it, and what I have planned for the future, which they’ve accepted.”
Karen is 49 now, but if her palpable dedication to fundraising is anything to go by, she’s far from crossing her last finish line. Age may be just a number, but for charities the numbers really matter – pounds and pennies transform into real, tangible benefits for the people relying on their support. For example, just £25 could pay for a Macmillan nurse for 1 hour.
As Karen is keen to make clear, every little bit really does have a big impact, and whatever your age, there’s always something you can do to help.
So that’s Karen’s story, but we know there are thousands out there just like it. What’s your fundraising history? What inspires you to get out there? Tell us and you could win a great prize! We’re dishing out personalised JustTextGiving vests for lucky tweeters who tell us their very own #WhyIRaise story. It’s that simple – click here to find out more.
Feeling inspired? If you want to set up a JustTextGiving code for yourself, it couldn’t be easier – just click here to find out how.