Cannock Chase MP Aidan Burley cut a dashing figure in his Santa hat this week (Monday 7 October) to launch a local festive fundraising challenge.
The fourth annual Newlife Santa Dash returns to Cannock town centre on Saturday 14 December, with runners, joggers and walkers invited to join in the festive fun to raise money to support local disabled and terminally ill children. Aidan Burley will be joining participants for the one-mile pre-Christmas fundraiser.
Mr Burley said: “I am delighted to be taking part in the Newlife Santa Dash for the first time this year. After being involved in the start/finish several times it seemed like it was about time I put my running shoes on and joined in. I’d encourage everyone to give it a go; Christmas is the perfect time to do something fun that also changes children’s lives.”
The event is being organised by Cannock-based national children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation, which is calling on local runners and enthusiastic fundraisers to think ahead and sign up now.
First off the starting block to sign up was Bank Bar & Lounge owner Alastair Payne, who is a dedicated marathon runner and Newlife supporter. Alastair said: “This is a fantastic community event which gives people from all walks of life and from all around the Cannock area an opportunity to get together for a common goal. Newlife Foundation does so much to help disabled and terminally ill children in the county, and this annual Santa Dash is what the true meaning of Christmas is all about – helping others.”
All participants – who can run, jog or walk the course – will be charged a £5 entry fee and asked to raise a minimum of £30 sponsorship. Past entrants will receive a 50 per cent discount on the entry fee. Newlife will provide every adult participant with a Santa suit and every child who takes part with a Santa hat. So sign up now at www.newlifecharity.co.uk/events to guarantee your place!
Newlife Fundraising Manager Nora Smith said: “We want to make the Newlife Santa Dash bigger and better than last year so are we urging people to put the date in their diaries now and sign up as soon as possible. It’s a great opportunity for individuals as well as families, groups of work colleagues, students and even health and leisure club members to get together for a bit of festive fun. It only takes an hour of your time and it’s a real party atmosphere!”
The past year has seen a considerable increase in demand for Newlife services; in the first six months of 2013 alone the charity funded 601 UK-wide Equipment Grants at a cost of £950,000. There has also been significant additional investment into the charity’s equipment loan services and Newlife has recently launched a pilot project to help keep children safe at night.
Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “Last year everyone had a great time during the Santa Dash and we intend to build on that this December. 2013 has seen Newlife services develop and expand to meet a greater need and we are determined to continue to help as many disabled and terminally ill children – and their families – as possible.”
Pictured: Helping MP Aidan Burley (back, centre) launch this year’s Santa Dash was Bank Bar and Lounge owner Alastair Payne (front, centre), Newlife Fundraising Manager Nora Smith (left) and Chase Leisure Centre representative Lissy Milligan.
How did Newlife spend last year’s Santa Dash sponsorship?
The 2012 event raised £2,627, which helped fund a disability buggy for five-year-old Penkridge boy Alfie Tunas-Bana.
Alfie has Cerebral Palsy and a congenital birth defect which puts pressure on his spinal cord; he has limited mobility and behavioural problems. Dad Steve said: “Alfie was in a standard buggy but he is tall for his age and he was able to tip it over. We were getting really worried because the congenital defect, at the back of his head, means he has a high chance of breaking his neck if he falls.
“We needed a specialist buggy but there was no way we could afford one ourselves so we turned to Newlife Foundation for help.”
Steve added: “The buggy Newlife provided is fantastic. It has a wide wheelbase so Alfie can’t turn it over and it is rugged so it will cope with most surfaces. It also has a special harness so Alfie can’t get out and put himself in danger and it has additional padding to support his head and neck.
“It is very versatile and high enough to double up as a seat when we are out, so Alfie can sit at the table with us to eat.
“We try to get Alfie out and about as much as possible, and now, thanks to this buggy, we can.”