2016 Charity champions.

These volunteers take an extraordinary interest in the success of a cause or project while raising funds for their charity.

Jurgen Donaldson – Cancer survivor and supporter of the Teenage Cancer Trust

At the aged of 20 I was diagnosed with an acute form of lymphoma. I had 3 tumours which were passing stage 3 and was told that my chances of survival weren’t positive.

One week after diagnosis I started treatment at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, 2 days after Christmas. For the next 6 months.

Deciding that I wanted to take charge of the situation I decided to shave my hair short and not bald just before starting chemo. About 3 weeks into treatment I remember vividly waking up one morning to find tuffs of hair on my pillow. At the point this was probably the scariest thing that had happened as it made it all real.

Over the next few months I lost all of the hair I had, dropped 3 stone in weight and became incredibly weak, but on the far end there is survivorship…jubilation…I am alive and I am going to be ok. In my opinion, the most overlooked parts of cancer treatment is mental health after care. The rates of depression in survivors is exceedingly high and it never really leaves you. Cancer changes you in more ways that you can possibly imagine..

I regularly volunteer to help out at large scale events, do bucket collections and have been featured previously in their schools based campaigns in raising early cancer detection awareness. I also regularly mentor young people currently fighting cancer to help them on their journey; it’s about being someone that can relate to what they are experiencing.

Kirk Marek – Frederick County Human Society

I became involved with this cause as I've always wanted to have a pet growing up but my parents would not allow it. I want to help animals who don't always have a voice on the way they're treated and when neglected, they're left abandoned by their family. Volunteering with the organizations makes them better and finds them a home is rewarding to me.

For 2016, I helped with the planning and executing of the charity drive to raise funds to donate to the Humane Society as well as help their program Unsung K9 Hero Project. We held an office wide Candy Gram, helping take over 700 orders, assembling and delivering them to employees. We also organized bake sales to accomplish this.

In years past, I collected food and supplies to stock pet food banks besides monetary donations for the Animal Welfare League of Frederick County and Frederick County Animal Control to help with neutering/spaying the dogs and cats, the upkeep and adoption of the various animals. I also participated in AWLFC's Paws and Claws 5K/1 mile walk to raise money as well.

I volunteer at the Manna Food Centre whenever I am able to, at the Lincoln Rise program that LGA participates with, and currently facilitating the collection of toys for the Marine Toys-for-Tots Foundation this holiday season.

Jonathan Fanthorpe – Royal British Legion Supporter

A friend invited me to take part in the 1000 miles in 24 hours challenge in 2011. As my son had recently joined the army and this was to raise money for the Royal British Legion this was something that really resonated with me. So I did the ride and then joined the Royal British Legion’s Riders Branch (RBLR).

Since then, I have been taking part in the annual RBLR 1000. A motorcycle ride around the country, covering 1000 miles within 24 hours to raise money for the Poppy Appeal.

For the 2016 ride my wife and I used a new route proposed by the organisers that took in Wales, so we started at Sherburne in Elmet, rode to Bangor, down to Haverford west on to Exeter then Brighton and returning to Sherburne via Lowestoft completing just over 1020 miles in 23 hours exactly and raising £1145.00 for the poppy appeal to help serving and ex-military personnel.

To encourage other motorcyclists to take part I wrote up this year’s ride for the magazine “The Harleyquin”, the bi-monthly magazine issued by the Harley Davidson Riders Club of Great Britain, which was published in the magazines latest issue.

Emma Williams – Velindre Cancer Centre Cardiff supporter

In 2010 my paternal grandmother and my husband Neil’s grandmother were both, within weeks of each other, diagnosed with secondary cancer of the ovaries following two brave battles with breast Cancer some 6 years previous.

During the course of their individual treatment, they both became patients at Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff. The hospital is considered a centre of excellence and they both received outstanding care during the time they spent there. We were blown away and will be forever grateful to Velindre for the kindness that they gave to our family, it then became our desire to give something back.

Our fundraising started in 2010 when Neil and his brother signed up with the fundraising team at Velindre to take part in a US East Coast bike ride.

My part was very much chief organiser of the challenges, then I took a great leap out of my comfort zone and I signed up to cycle the Canadian Rockies. I agreed to the challenge back in September 2014 and had 2 years to get ready, but I fell pregnant and our 2nd baby arrived prematurely in June 2015. With just a little over a year left to get on a bike I got back to training and joined a local ladies rugby team, only to break my leg about 4 weeks in and spent the rest of 2015 in a plaster cast. Following lots of physiotherapy I was finally able to get back on a bike and begin my Rockies training, I was committed and so off I went to Canada to face the Rockies.

We had a gruelling 5 days of cycling through mountainous terrain and we covered over 405km from Canmore to Jasper. It was an incredible experience, with many highs and lows along the way, cycling with others who all had very personal reasons for being there. We cried and laughed together along the way and have formed bonds that will last a lifetime. I’m beyond proud of what I achieved. Between us we raised over £110k for Velindre for the Rockies campaign.

We are incredibly proud to have been able to personally contribute over 40k to date to their fundraising efforts and will continue to support Velindre in our lifetimes.

Lindsey Parkin – The Zambezi Kayak Challenge and Big Cat Project, via Cats Protection

Every couple of years I like to take on a new challenge close to my heart. This year I did something a little different as after three foot operations I was no longer able to run very far, so I decided to kayak down the Zambezi River in Africa. It was a tricky river with very strong currents, crocodiles, elephants and hundreds of hippos! I kayaked 25km a day, a total of 80km.

I then went on to assist at The African Lion Environmental Research Trust (ALERT), helping at the community school to educate on anti-poaching, animal and environmental conservation, as well as assisting with a new breeding programme. The lions needed constant monitoring and management to get those reared without human touch, back into the wild.

My passion is the world around me and what we as the human race are doing to our natural world. There is so much that we can do locally as well as further afield, it just takes more effort and that’s how I landed upon on this adventure.

I used my creative talents to raise £3,200 and sold items I’d had made from my illustrations, i.e. book marks and magnets, with all the profits going to the Cats Protection who organised this amazing challenge with ALERT.

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