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In order to raise money for Breast Cancer Now, Dawn arranged some sponsored walks for herself and her friends. She shares her experience with her ‘Walk for Norks’ and gives some top tips for others who want to fundraise.
In November 2020, after going through breast cancer treatment, I organised a charity fundraiser walk to coincide with my birthday. It took place during lockdown but it got so many people out and about – it was loads of fun.
Then, in August 2021, I moved house to a place called Nork. Before moving there, I didn’t think it was a real place name! Once we’d settled in, someone pointed out to me that ‘nork’ is slang for boobs – at which point I remembered I actually had a candle that someone bought me while I was in recovery that had all these other words for breasts, and norks was one of them.
Anyway, from that point it just made sense to do a ‘Walk for Norks’, and that’s what I called it.
The walk was a 10-mile circuit, beginning and ending in Nork. That distance is quite a long way, especially for people who aren’t used to walking, so it made the whole thing a bit more of a challenge – but one that was still reasonably achievable and fun.
I wanted it to be as scenic as possible, so I worked out a route with my friend that would take us through some beautiful countryside. We walked through woods and over hills, and ended up going through some lavender fields that I didn’t know were there. I'm actually planning on going back in the summer to see them properly in bloom.
If you’re going to plan a walk like this, it’s so important to check ahead and have a back-up plan in case the weather conditions mean that your path will be too muddy. Thankfully, we got lucky with the weather, but I had an alternative just in case.
On the day itself, we tied helium balloons to people’s backpacks and I had wristbands that said ‘Walk for Norks’ and the date on them. And, of course, everyone was wearing pink.
We set up a Facebook group to coordinate plans, as some people wanted to make cakes and others needed to know what to bring for the party that would happen afterwards. For that, we had two big vats of chili con carne – one meaty, one vegetarian – along with loads of rice and sour cream.
It ended up being a pretty cold day, so everyone was grateful for the hot food!
I also have some friends that got into DJing over lockdown, so they brought some music along (which must’ve made some people think we were a bit mad, but we all enjoyed it!).
It was a simple way to have light-hearted fun out of something that can be quite a serious issue for some people.
As part of the Facebook group, I shared my JustGiving link. Other people then shared it on their own pages to get sponsorship, which was helpful as it meant that all the donations came through the same channel. Every time I saw the total go up, I was motivated to give a social media update, and it kept me feeling positive before, during and after the event.
I know I'm very lucky to have a wide circle of friends and family who support me with these fundraisers, but I would say it’s easy enough for anyone to promote these sorts of things through local Facebook groups and other social media.
I also think people like to sponsor me because they are grateful that I was able to have treatment for my breast cancer. When I was diagnosed with DCIS at the start of the first lockdown in 2020, my surgeon actually told me, ‘It’s the best one to get’.
At the time, that was a hard thing to hear. Cancer is cancer. But now I know that, because of all the research funded by Breast Cancer Now, we understand certain cancers better.
Now, for those who support me, having that personal connection to someone really changes things. It makes them realise why it’s important to fund research and care for others with breast cancer.
While I had everyone at my event, I made sure to give out some leaflets with information on how to check yourself. I do a similar thing on social media as well by regularly posting ‘check yourself’ reminders, and I've become quite passionate about it.
Early detection saves lives, so people really shouldn’t be scared to check themselves. It only takes a minute and you can do it while you’re in the shower. Even if you do find a lump, don’t let it scare you; it might not be anything serious. The worst thing you can do is ignore it.
I also share a lot of things on social media from Breast Cancer Now and other charities like Coppafeel, just to keep spreading awareness.
Without that research and care, we wouldn’t have the treatments we do now, so it’s really important to me – as someone who’s been through it – to help other people who will have to go through the same thing.
If you'd like to get stuck in with your own fundraiser, we provide free fundraising packs complete with all the tricks, tips and ideas to get you started.