Fundraising heroes: How I went viral and raised over £10,000
2019 Virgin Money London Marathon runner Kerrie shares how she raised over £10,000 from virtual runs to viral videos.
Kerrie Aldridge made headlines in April when she was one of the last to finish the Virgin Money London Marathon, but she was not disheartened. Proving every runner matters she managed to raise a phenomenal £11,300 for the Miscarriage Association and is already gearing up for 2020. Here’s her marathon story.
What inspired you to run the marathon?
“I always secretly wanted to do the Virgin Money London Marathon but it always seemed a far-fetched fantasy: I was a very unfit ‘Plus Size’ Mummy. On New Year’s Day 2018 I woke up unhappy and decided it was time to make a change, I set myself a challenge to run the marathon - ultimately showing my son, Osian, that you can do anything you set your mind to if you reach for the stars.”
How did you get a place to run?
“I am so thankful that the Miscarriage Association accepted me on to their team. It is a charity close to my heart. Miscarriage is a taboo subject, but one that affects many people. Statistics show one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage and the effects are far-reaching. My husband and I have been directly affected by miscarriage. Each pregnancy has brought hope and joy – and our son is very much a precious rainbow baby – but each loss has brought heartache. The week I found out that I got a place in the Virgin Money London Marathon I also found out I was pregnant. I was so excited, but sadly I found out later that our baby had grown its angel wings. So I ran the 26.2 miles of VMLM for my five angel babies and for all those who have been affected by miscarriage.”
How did you go about the challenge of hitting your fundraising target?
“Raising money is daunting, especially if you’re also trying to train for your first marathon, but people are keen to help, you just need to develop a thick skin, get out there and start asking. I learnt quite quickly that you can’t just rely on just asking people to sponsor you though, you need to give people a reason to give – so I organised events. Lots of events. I had a bake sale, a raffle with prizes donated from local businesses – there were 50 prizes, the result of over 500 emails I sent off.”
“My top tip is organise events around things you’re interested in; show your passion and your personality – I love Zumba and clubbercise and got my instructors on board and arranged a Zumba-cise event complete with glow sticks and UV face paint which was a great hit!”
What were some of the most successful events you organised?
“To coincide with Baby Loss Awareness Week, I invited people to join me in a virtual run – they donated £5 to my page and ran 5k in stages at their own speed. When they completed the 5k I would send them a certificate. Lots of them also asked their friends to donate to my page if they succeeded.”
Which events didn’t work out as you hoped?
“I had a karaoke night which was one of the few things that went wrong in my fundraising. It was the middle of the week, and nobody turned up. When I posted pictures of me laughing in the empty room with the caption ‘life is not a dress rehearsal’, it did spur a lot of people to donate though.”
You even sold the shirt on your back…
“Yes. I found a great printer who printed my running vest for free. So I sold memory miles – I’d run a mile in memory of somebody special and those names and miles would be printed on the back of my vest. The last mile was for my own children who I lost to miscarriage.”
How did you find the race itself?
“It was tough. I finished in nine hours and 11 minutes. You imagine that there will be crowds and everyone cheering you on. But if you are a back-of-the-pack runner, you don't get that. I never did hit “the wall” though. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and remembered why I was doing it. There were two particular poignant moments which will stay with me forever. One was at mile 17 I was all on my own and it was hard. I saw a family ahead of me who stopped what they were doing and clapped and cheered for me. The mum saw my running vest and saw who I was running for we hugged and she made me promise to finish for her three angel babies – promise made, I knew that I would finish. The second was coming down Horseguards Parade with the course all being packed up around me; there were no crowds or cheers. But I had my best friend and my family, my best friend started playing the song ‘This Is Me’ from ‘The Greatest Showman’ and that got me over the line, the lyrics are so powerful and ultimately on race day I showed everyone #Thisisme.”
How did your viral video come about?
“I posted a video for my friends and family of me at the halfway point as stewards were cleaning up around me. I was visibly upset and it seemed to strike a nerve, my friends and others began to share it. I had no idea what I had started with that video, it got 30,000 views and I got so many lovely messages of support and lots of people donating as a result. I am running again in 2020 and I’ve started an #everyrunnercounts campaign. I am getting some wristbands made to sell for charity and t-shirts too. The marathon is about much more than those who can do the course in under three hours – everyone is running to do some good. Yes it was upsetting crossing Tower Bridge with nobody there, but the lows just made me appreciate all the highs I’ve had on this journey. And ultimately it the biggest winners are the charities – that’s what it is all about.”