Robin smashes £10,000 fundraising target
Being a runner, Robin-Mark Schols had done little bit of fundraising for charities, running marathons and other races, but he had never aimed for any particular target. So when in 2017 Brain Tumour Support asked if he might like to set up a Champion Fund with a target of £7,500, he was not sure if he could do it. Today, he has raised more than £11,400 and it seems there is no stopping him! Here is his story, told in his own words.
“After my first operation to remove a brain tumour in 2009 in I was an emotional mess. I didn’t know where to turn. I felt my family didn’t really didn’t understand how I was coping and to be honest I felt like I didn’t want to let them in. Sadly for me, whilst the medical folks were great at what they did, it felt like the job of picking up the pieces emotionally was left to me to cope with on my own.
As a keen runner, I felt devastated to have my hobby interrupted again in 2015 after another operation. I’d just run the London Marathon in record time and without doubt I was on an upward performance curve. An appearance for the GB Masters team was also on the cards if I was able to keep the progress going. The opportunity fell away after complications from the operation. The complications meant I was going to have to wear a helmet for around a year, so it looked like my running days were over.
Except, I decided they weren’t. I decided to try to run while wearing the helmet. It was hot and very demanding but it at least kept a level of fitness going, though I tired very quickly. I was a very distinct figure at my local parkrun and even ran a few races, including a sub-90-minute run at the Bath Half Marathon and an age category win at another which really gave me hope I might just be able to be competitive again. People were very interested in my headgear and often said that it looks really hard to run in that helmet. I did my best to make light of it and said I was working on an idea where they could find out for themselves.
I had heard of Brain Tumour Support by now but still did not feel ready to ask for support. While I didn’t seek help from Brain Tumour Support, I could see that the charity did great work. I decided to fundraise for Brain Tumour Support so that others could access the charity’s services should they want to.
I started by wearing the charity kit during my runs. I wasn’t raising very much money but was helping with brand recognition. It was also a great distraction from the realisation I too had come through a serious time and was hoping my being up front about things would help others.
Fundraising isn’t easy so I tried different things. I’ve done a competition to guess the number of steps on a pedometer when I ran the London Marathon; I’ve sold stuff I didn’t need on Ebay or at a car boot and donated that money; I’ve held raffles and so on.
I was proud to be asked to become a Champion Fundraiser for Brain Tumour Support. To have my own pot in my name felt very grand and important, but also brought a feeling of intimidation and trepidation.
A new challenge
A Hilly Helmet hatrick
I held my first Hilly Helmet Challenge in 2017 and started by calling in favours from friends who I thought might help with financial backing. I was worried this might be hard, but I soon found people were really excited at being part of it and I was amazed at the generosity shown.
The event has grown and so has the amount raised, but I’ve really worked hard to keep the event one that has a nice warm feel and not too big for its boots. I’m very proud of how well the event has been received and how it seems to bring the best out in so many people.
I decided to fundraise because I wanted to push myself and see if I could do it. I get huge satisfaction from seeing the amount raise increasing and I feel proud for doing it. When I felt £7,500 was achievable, I upped the target to £10,000 - I liked the challenge of having that target just outside of my comfort zone to aim at.
Seeing some of the big donations coming in gives me such a buzz. One person donated £100 and I contacted them as I was worried they meant to donate £10. They told me it was a great cause and they were thrilled with how I was working so hard on the fund raising.
The main hurdle I had to overcome in order to achieve my target was my own belief that I could do it. But I did some research and made a plan. I also, quite quickly, had to get used to the idea that not everybody would want to donate and not take it personally.
People’s generosity astounds me. My boss posted a link to my Champion Fund around work - seeing some of the donations coming in from people (much senior in rank to me) who were just happy to support me was really encouraging. I also had some real surprises with some donations to my event.
I started Hilly Helmet as an opportunity for people to just run and see how it felt for me every time I ran in the helmet. It has performed beyond my wildest dreams.
I recognise I am a very lucky man getting the opportunity I have had at another go at life after my tumour where so many do not. I have made some amazing friends who have been great supporters and of course I need to thank my wife who lets me get on with Hilly helmet every year despite how much time I spend on it.”
The Hilly Helmet Challenge is now in its fourth year and going from strength to strength. The 2020 event will take place on Wednesday 12th August. For more information see Orange Helmet Events.
Meet more inspiring fundraisers
If you are inspired to take on a challenge, raise funds as a special way to remember or support someone close to you, or get involved in any sort of fundraising to support our work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what opportunities are coming up.