For the next three months I’ll be working on the LLR Sports Team helping out with the wide range of sporting events and challenges that lie ahead in 2013, and the considerable amount and variety of organisational work that this entails. A large part of our job involves ensuring that everyone who raises money for our charity has the most rewarding experience possible while doing so. This means being a point of contact to field any queries, making sure they have all the necessary information so that everything runs smoothly for them on the day, and providing them with fundraising advice, training tips and of course, bright yellow LLR T-shirts.
Two weeks in, I’ve already been in contact with several of our fundraisers and can see how committed they are to helping us in the battle to beat blood cancers. It’s an exciting time to be starting, with the whole year’s events calendar still ahead of us and a sense of early-season optimism in the air. April’s Virgin London Marathon promises to be a highlight at the end of my planned stint with LLR, but with several high-profile events before then, things are already warming up. I’ll be focusing particularly closely on the London and Ironman UK triathlon events – a discipline I wasn’t overly familiar with beforehand, but one which clearly requires immense dedication and highly specific training. With the full distance event consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles on the bike, followed by a casual marathon, it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted!
It’s fascinating to gain an insight into the sector, but there is also a more personal aspect to my motivation for getting involved: in November 2011 I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and I’m currently in remission and on maintenance treatment. All being well, the hardest part of the treatment is behind me, but at its most intense it is extremely punishing and something nobody should have to go through. I’m also aware that although massive improvements have been made in recent years, not everyone is lucky enough to recover. With the research that LLR is funding, we are striving towards a future where treatments are gentler in terms of side effects but more effective than ever, and where every single patient has the best possible chance of beating blood cancer – that’s what I wanted to be a part of.
On a personal level, sport has played a huge role in my recovery. It helps measure progress – I think back to nine months ago when I was still wiped out from chemo and struggled to make it 500 yards up the road on my bike, and compare it to today, when I can plausibly consider running the 5 miles between home and the LLR office in the mornings (mentioning this here of course means I will actually have to go through with it for fear of being considered a letdown by everyone who reads this!)
And more broadly, sport – in the form of the runs, swims, bikeathons and many other events that LLR are involved with up and down the country throughout the year – clearly unites people in their mission to raise as much as possible for a cause they believe in. It’s exciting and hugely rewarding, and I’m looking forward to contributing to it.