Toe2Top - Cycling the length of South America
Earlier this year, friends Jim and Roo cycled the length of South America - 7,600 miles - in aid of four charities close to their hearts. They embarked on a journey into the unknown, something which not even the most stringent planning could have prepared them for. They completed the cycle in 129 days and surpassed their target by over £10,000.
1. How did you end up working with charities/this charity?
My friend, Roo and I cycled the length of South America, 7,600 miles from Ushuaia in Argentina to Cartagena, on the north coast of Colombia. This adventure took us a total of 129 days, our target was to complete it in 130 days. Our aim was to do something different which hopefully would raise both money and awareness for our four incredible charities: Sands, War Child, The Air Ambulance and The Charlie Watkins Foundation. All the charities are very close to our hearts and we have wanted to do something to support them for many years. For me, my Granny was saved once by the Air Ambulance in 2006 after breaking her neck falling off a horse and then when she died in a farming accident in 2009 the Air Ambulance came out again to save her but this time, sadly they were too late. This charity is very close to my family and I have wanted to do something extreme to support them since I was 13. Sands is a children's miscarriage and stillborn charity. They support thousands of families a year who go through the pain of losing a baby. I work in health insurance so I’m aware of how amazing this charity is - it was a clear decision to choose them. War Child was a charity Roo chose. Roo studied politics and learnt so much about how much children and families suffer living in war zones. He has run various half marathons to support them but again wanted to do something bigger to raise even more awareness. Our last charity is called the Charlie Watkins Foundation. Charlie was a friend of both of ours at school. He sadly committed suicide whilst at university. The Foundation has been helping people at universities struggling with mental health and have set up a platform called Chat With Charlie which allows people to communicate online 24/7. You can talk about whatever you want and always have the support there should you need it. Again, such an amazing charity and one we all want to support for many years to come.
2. What has been the most rewarding part of your experience?
Completing the challenge was, for us, a massive physical and mental achievement. We spent 129 days on a bike all day for an average of 11 hours with just one other person whilst camping along the way. We cycled an average of 65 miles a day for the 129 days. It was the most incredible thing we have ever done. We had several difficult days but knowing we were doing this for our four charities gave us the push that we needed. The highlight of the whole trip was how much support we received and how amazingly generous our friends and family were. We managed to raise over £30,000 for the charities which to this day, still blows our mind. Each day we would stop and get WiFi to check our virgin giving page and couldn't believe just how amazing everyone was. People are so generous! We can't thank everyone enough for their ongoing help and support!
3. How do you see technology influencing fundraising at your charity?
Massively. Roo and I are looking to host a talk, video and Q&A evening in London and having a device which can take contactless payment will help us raise a lot more money. Nobody carries cash on them any more. Having the option to donate either £5, £10 or £20 over contactless payment will make such a big difference. I also feel that when you are speaking about the charity event you are taking part in, if there are contactless payment devices located around a room people will tap as they listen. For example, if I were to speak about getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and having to sleep a foot away from Roo every night for 129 days I think people will feel sorry for me and donate a lot more money for charity!! I also believe technology will help massively when I am sharing our story. Being able to show a video of the adventure will make it a lot easier for us to tell our stories, making it a lot more real for the guests.