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Losing a friend to breast cancer inspired me to raise thousands

When Kerry's close friend died from breast cancer, she put her all into fundraising in her memory. She shares how she's still fundraising during the coronavirus crisis.

When Kerry's close friend died from breast cancer, she put her all into fundraising in her memory. She shares how she's still fundraising during the coronavirus crisis. 

I started fundraising after a friend was diagnosed

Not long after our friend Julie was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time, I started raising money for Breast Cancer Now. I'd seen an advert in Take a Break magazine back in 2006, encouraging people to hold a Crocus Walk for the charity and raise funds. So, I threw my energy into organising one – a fundraising event which allowed all of us who knew or were related to Julie, along with many others, to channel ourselves into something positive.

That first Crocus Walk in April 2006, which Julie attended with 51 other people, raised £3,500.

That first walk was a lightbulb moment for me. I knew that fundraising and helping others to be breast aware would enable more people to live and live well with a diagnosis. I soon became more involved with the charity, holding more events and cheque collections, giving talks in our community, lobbying in parliament plus encouraging and supporting others with their own efforts.

Losing her inspired me to fundraise even more

Unfortunately, Julie passed away from breast cancer on 10 December 2010. To honour her memory and to help everyone who knew Julie deal with her passing, I threw myself into organising what was to become Julie's Year.

2011 saw two walks (I introduced a new walk in Breast Cancer Awareness Month called Stepping Out), two performance evenings at our local theatre and many other events aimed at not only raising funds, but also boosting awareness of Breast Cancer Now's aims. I named my fundraising Julie's Legacy in honour of our beautiful friend. All this was bolstered by a beautiful letter from Julie written before she died, which I carry with me at all times.

Julie's legacy lives on through our fundraising

Over the years, I have fundraised in many different ways, including performance shows, fitness events, coffee mornings, and Afternoon Teas. I have trekked along the Great Wall of China, climbed Machu Picchu, I cycled from Vietnam to Cambodia, and trekked some of the Sahara Desert.

I hold two annual walks – the original Crocus Walk is now in its 15th year, plus the Stepping Out walk which has been going for nine years. I also produced a Calendar Girls of Deal in 2015 which raised nearly £8,000.

To date, I have raised over £217,000 and Julie’s Legacy lives on.

Coronavirus meant I had to get creative 

When COVID-19 hit and events were being cancelled and postponed, I felt like my lifeline had been severed as fundraising means so much to me.

However, as time went on, I started to think outside the box about ways to fundraise and started to do raffles online on my Deal, Kent and Sussex Breast Cancer Now Facebook group. I put a shoutout for prizes and received lots of donations, plus I had some prizes in my 'pink raffle cupboard'! People would leave the prizes on their doorstep and I would collect them.  

I started with numbers 1–25 first, and when they sold out in five minutes I knew I was onto a winner and that people still wanted to support. I then went 1–50 on the second raffle and that sold out in 15 minutes. I was getting lots of messages from people saying how much fun the raffles were and I should do more numbers, so I now have 1–100 numbers that I give away in exchange for a suggested donation.

I make sure to drop the prize off to the winner at a safe distance, and post a picture of them to my JustGiving page. Everything goes straight to Breast Cancer Now, and the raffles have raised over £2,000 in just a month. I receive so many messages from people saying they're happy to be able to support the cause even in lockdown.

Support is still pouring in

I have been logging on to free webinars about socially distanced fundraising and seeing what others are doing, and the main thing I have learnt is that our supporters still want to support. Just because the normal ways they may support, like face-to-face fundraising, events and bucket collections, aren’t happening, they haven’t stopped wanting to donate. I make sure they have a fun way to keep supporting this important charity. 

If you want to try your hand at stay-at-home fundraising, we have some creative ideas you could use.

Fundraising from home

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