Welcome to this spooktacular edition of the makeabigdifference newsletter. The one-stop-shop for all the charities’ news and events.
We did it! Yes myself, Nicola and Steven did our charity skydives in aid of Young Heroes and what an amazing experience it was! Further down in the newsletter you can read all about my jump and what it really felt like to fall out of a plane 120mph to terra firma.
You can read the inspirational story of young hero Akky and also read about Jason’s fun break to Lanzarote.
With Halloween just around the corner it seemed appropriate for the Fundraising Idea of the Month to be spookily themed, so read on about how to throw a Halloween Party and raise ‘big bucks’ for Young Heroes.
I am also pleased to announce that Charlie Dowen (aka Miss Whiplash) is fighting fit and well again after her foot injury and will be doing her 26 mile sponsored walk early next month.
There is the second helping of Katie Brooman’s repsite break in Lanzarote in Katie’s Corner and you can read about some remarkable people, who are going all out to raise money for Young Heroes.
And finally you can also read about who interviewed us for a documentary on television.
On behalf of myself and Young Heroes, Happy Halloween!
Have a good one.
Akky with girlfriend Jen
22 year old Akky from Oldham was recently referred to Young Heroes, through his social worker at Christies Hospital in Manchester.
Since his diagnosis back in 2008, Akky has undergone intensive treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) which is a cancer of the white blood cells, the cells in the body that normally fight infections and accounts for about 75 to 80 percent of the childhood and teenage leukemia’s.
Akky is an outgoing young man who like many others his age, loves socialising with friends (whether it be going to the cinema or a night on the town). He also has a passion for music and enjoys watching wrestling.
Months prior to his diagnosis, Akky had begun to complain about persistent pains in his knee’s followed by heavy nose bleeds which had plagued him for years.
Concerned doctors began to run regular blood tests which showed Akky’s white cell counts were extremely low.
It was April 2008 at the Royal Oldham Hospital when he and his family received the devasting news that the 20 year old had Leukemia “I was really upset, shocked and scared when I found out I was ill. I felt I was going to die” says Akky. Equally his family was distraught by the news and left in total shock.
Within days a very brave Akky was transferred to Manchester’s cancer care hospital, Christies. With his family and close friends by his side, he begun his first 5 weeks of intensive chemotherapy. “During my treatment I coped fine because I had such fantastic support from my family and friends, they gave me the strength to get through it”.
Over the next few weeks and months (and an all too familiar story for young people living with cancer) certain friends found Akky’s illness too hard to deal with and unfortunately walked away.
Though he had lost friends, he made many new ones in hospital and even found friendship with a young lady called Jen who is scheduled to have a Young Heroes break next year. The pair hit it off immediately and have been dating since August.
21 year old Jen from Stockport was also receiving treatment at Christies with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
After the chemotherapy Akky was left too sick, too tired and too ill to do all the activities and interests he loved, instead he spent most of his time either attending hospital appointments or being admitted for complications.
Akky admits this last year has left him emotionally drained but says having such a great support network with family and close friends helps tremendously.
Physically, his illness has left him unable to walk for long periods of time and he gets tired easily if out shopping or walking.
Akky now has checkups once a week although says this can vary depending on what stage of treatment he is at or how poorly he is.
Less than 2 weeks ago, his Young Heroes break to Lanzarote had to be cancelled and moved to Spring next year due to another spell in hospital. Disappointed but looking forward to next year Akky says “I am very excited about next years break as I haven’t been away in 3 years and so obviously I was gutted when I had to cancel my long awaited holiday to Lanzarote because of my admittance to hospital”.
He goes onto say “I am looking forward to every part of the holiday especially not having to think about hospitals, treatments and my illness”.
When asked if his Leukemia has changed his outlook on life, Akky says “Yes it has made me look at life in a completely different way. Small irrelevant things don’t matter anymore, live as much as you can and value important things in your life, I also try to tell everyone I care about that I love them all the time”.
Charity Skydive – We did it
On the 26th September myself, Nicola Mullen and Steven Wright each did a skydive for the first time; jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet and falling at a top speed of 120 mph.
It was incredible!
It truly is the most amazing experience one can have and despite the perception of danger (although fatalities are very rare) it is certainly worth the unbeatable feeling of freedom and the adrenalin rush that cannot compare to anything in the world.
Everything about the day was perfect and we couldn’t have asked for better weather with the sun beaming down on us and not a cloud in the sky.
The night before the jump I had my reservations; wondering what on earth I had got myself into but tried to stay focused on the reason why I was doing it; Young Heroes.
The sponsorship money I had received from friends and family was truly overwhelming and I was thrilled to have reached my target within such a short space of time.
The Morning of the jump
On the morning of the jump, I was pretty calm and strangely began to look forward to the experience. The drive over was great thinking time and helped me focus.
Myself, Nicola and Steven had some family and friends there to support us which helped tremendously.
The whole process of jumping was also very well organised; we had 30 minute briefing in which an instructor talked us through the parachute, exit and landing positions etc.
We all did a tandem jump, which meant that we were attached to an instructor who pulled the ripcord and steered the chute to a safe landing, hence the short briefing.
Shortly after we were called to change into our jump suits and then waited half an hour or so before boarding the bus which would take us to the plane.
The plane itself was posing my biggest challenge; I wondered how on earth I was going to climb into it with no steps and an extremely tight jump suit; consequently I fell in.
Once on board our instructors connected our harnesses and all sat anxiously peering out as the plane got higher and higher. My goggles and hat were checked and once again the harness.
Once we reached the required altitude, a very brave Steven Wright and his instructor went first, followed by another woman and then it was my turn, just after my camera man. Funnily enough I was so excited that I forgot to be scared. We stood at the edge of the plane I put my head on my instructor’s shoulder, my legs tucked between his knees and we fell out.
The feeling is indescribable; emptiness, freedom, speed, beauty…
Any fears and anxieties I had in the weeks running up to the jump, totally evaporated away and I embraced the moment, after all this is something which I may never do again.
I spent the rest of my freefall time appearing to be smeared against an imaginary ceiling by the wind, which was unbelievably powerful and slightly deafening.
Shortly after the parachute had been deployed I began to feel sick and a little dizzy from the spinning from the freefall but I was determined for it to not ruin my experience. To take my mind off the sickness I simply looked around and absorbed the views, the calm silence and the sensation of flying, occasionally looking down at my feet dangling which brought me back to reality. I couldn’t believe what I was doing.
The time for landing came up very fast and I was asked to bend and lift my legs in front of me –like sitting on a chair- The landing was very smooth and right on the spot. I was so pleased to be safely on the ground and delighted that I had done it and in doing so, raised a substantial sum of money for the charity I am most passionate about.
My experience of skydiving was truly amazing and I am so glad I did it and if it wasn’t for having the photo’s and the DVD to look back on it would feel like a dream.
Would I do it again? I’m not planning to in the near future but as they say “never say never!”.
You could be part of it……
Young Heroes is looking for adventurous volunteers up and down the country to take on the challenge and make a big difference through one mighty big jump.
Starting early spring of next year Young Heroes are looking to hold 2 events and have teamed up with Target Skysports, a Leeds based company and affiliated member of BPA, British Parachute Association.
To take part in this thrill of a lifetime, all the charity asks is that you raise a minimum of £500. This amount includes the skydive, equipment and training costs and ensures a guaranteed £280 goes straight to Young Heroes. Alternatively, you can pay this all yourself which means that the entire amount will go to Young Heroes.
The charity can help arrange your jump, provide you with a Young Heroes T Shirt, sponsor form and set you up your very own JustGiving page.
For further details about skydiving for Young Heroes please contact me on 0870 055 43 13 or you can email me direct on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canarian TV interview
In last month’s edition of the newsletter, you will have read about Young Hero Chris Taylor and his break to Lanzarote. Whilst abroad, Chris was interviewed by Television Canaria about Young Heroes.
The Canary Island Television Network were curious to learn more about the charity after hearing about how Young Heroes are helping Lanzarote islander Antonio Machin Martinez who will be visiting the UK in the near future for a respite break and this will be funded by generous individuals in Lanzarote.
Antonio is the first Young Hero to be supported from outside of the UK and will be spending time relaxing, sightseeing, visiting famous football grounds and hopefully meeting some Spanish players which is his dream.
Television Canaria, who are based in Tenerife visited the charities’ villa in Lanzarote Casa Nissar in September and interviewed CEO Nigel Delaney, Chris and Antonio as part of a documentary highlighting the alarming number of cancer cases within the Canaries. It is believed that the childhood cancer rates within Canary Islands is way above the average found on the mainland.
Some researchers believe this may be due to islanders living close to magma, the molten rock found in Volcanoes, common throughout this small nest of islands.
For such a high volume of cases there are few charities on the canaries and mainland Spain which provide support for young people with cancer so word soon spread about the fantastic work of Young Heroes.
The documentary was aired on the 5 main islands making up the Canary Islands; La Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.
Back on track
No me either, but one brave lady from Bedfordshire will be doing just that next month in aid of Young Heroes.
Charlie Dowen will be taking to the streets on the 9th November on 26 mile hike starting from Old Hunstanton in Norfolk through Heacham, Snettisham, Ingoldisthorpe, Dersingham, Sandringham and back round to The Le Strange.
Back in August the bubbly blonde had to postpone the walk after a foot injury left her unable to walk on it. Through physiotherapy and lots of rest, Charlie began to make a speedy recovery and was able to resume her training schedule increasing the miles she walked every day.
So far Charlie has raised a jaw-dropping ?2120.00 for Young Heroes and will continue to collect as she walks through the different towns even selling Whiplash goodies and kisses along the way!
If you would like to sponsor Charlie you can visit her JustGiving page http://www.justgiving.com/charliedowen/ where you will able to make a donation online. Please be generous with your sponsorship and support.
Please join me in wishing Charlie the very best and look out for next months edition where you read all about the expedition from the lady herself.
The Rum-Bull Brothers are back.
Last month the newsletter featured 2 brothers from Whitley Bay who had taken on a grueling 100 rounds of kickboxing sparring against some well known faces on the UK’s sporting circuit including Bradford Bulls Hooker Wayne Godwin.
Andy and James Olsen pledged to raise even more money for Young Heroes by organising a series of fundraising events starting on the 22nd November with a team sports activity day for local youngsters.
Initially it was thought that around 500 young people would participate in the activity day however word soon spread and to Andy and James astonishment, numbers have increased to 2000!
Young Heroes would like to thank the brothers for their amazing work and commitment to the charity.
Young Heroes’ family fundraising event
The mother of Young Hero Dan Hewitt is kindly running a fundraising event in aid of Young Heroes. Yvonne Hewitt from Barnsley along with friends and family have been working tirelessly to produce knitted scarves and beautifully painted print calendars to sell at their fundraising event on Saturday 7th November at Birdwell’s Salon 36 Hair Studio.
Along with lovingly crafted items for sale, there will also be a lucky dip prize draw.
Yvonne says “I was keen to raise money for Young Heroes because of the wonderful opportunity they gave Dan. The break to Lanzarote made the world of difference and we had such a wonderful relaxing time. The charity has continued to support Dan in so many ways and I felt I wanted to give something back”.
This is not the first time Yvonne and Dan’s family have raised money for Young Heroes and the charity is delighted to have their support.
Friday 2nd May 2008
The weather was forecast a bit cloudy today so we decided to visit Timanfaya National Park, although it was very hot! Montañas del Fuego, or Fire Mountains were created between 1730 and 1736 when more than 100 volcanoes, which covered more than 50 km², erupted and devastated this part of the island, also including several villages. The last eruptions were in 1824, however due to the low rainfall (lack of erosion) this area appears much the same as it did just after the eruptions.
When we arrived we were shown a few demonstrations of how hot the area is, temperatures just a few metres below the surface reach between 400°C and 600°C. When dry brush (thin twigs) is thrown into a hole in the ground it catches fire immediately, while water poured into a bore hole erupts seconds later in the form of steam; like a mini-geyser.
We then went on a coach tour around the mountains, as the bus toured around the volcanoes an audio commentary was played telling us about the volcanoes and stories about what happened when they erupted. After the coach tour we had lunch in the ‘El Diablo’ restaurant, which provides an impressive backdrop to the volcanoes and serves Canarian food which is cooked using geothermal heat (A cast-iron grill placed over a large hole in the ground, unfortunately they weren’t cooking on this today so we didn’t see it in action!)
Afterwards we had a drive to Mirador Del Rio which is a viewpoint created by local artist César Manrique, they have amazing panoramic views there, but it was 6pm by the time we got there so they were closing and wouldn’t let us in, we decided to drive back to the villa along the coast road, which was nice. We went to a Mexican restaurant for tea in Playa Blanca tonight, Rob and Bev joined us and we all had a lovely night.
Saturday 3rd May 2008
Dad went on a bike ride today so me, mum, Bev and Rob had a trip to Teguise, to look around the market, and then we had lunch there.
In the evening we had a barbecue at our villa; joined by Bev, Rob, Charlie and Ste (Charlie and Ste have a villa in Lanzarote and are great supporters of Impact Young Heroes.) It was a great night, with great company.
Sunday 4th May 2008
It was our last full day today. We had a bit of a lazy day, my mum visited the church at Playa Blanca as Rob was leading the service, Me and dad met mum after the service and had a drive to El Golfo, we were hoping to find a nice bar with cocktails and watch the sunset, the sun was just setting as we sat down, only to find out they didn’t do cocktails there! So we had a coffee and the sun went behind the clouds so we didn’t even see the sunset.
We decided to go back to Playa Blanca and to an Indian restaurant for tea, it was lovely.
Monday 5th May 2008
Our last day in sunny Lanzarote today.
We were flying at 8.20pm so we had most of the day to enjoy. Me, mum, dad, Bev and Rob all went to Playa Blanca for a farewell lunch, it was really nice.
We set off to the airport at about 5pm, when we arrived we checked in and said our goodbyes to Bev and Rob. We will all really miss them, the support and all that they have done for us in Lanzarote is amazing, we couldn’t thank them enough. So off we went for our journey back to the UK…………………….Or did we?
Be sure to read next month’s newsletter to find out what happens!
Halifax Courier article
Impact Young Heroes and charity volunteer Katie Brooman were featured in the Halifax Evening Courier on the 9th October. The article was highlighting Katie’s and her parents’ experience of their break in Lanzarote and why it inspired her to volunteer from Young Heroes and help other young people living with cancer.
Fundraising idea of the month –
Charity Halloween Party
Of course, it goes without saying that a Halloween party is a fancy dress party.
Anything less just wouldn’t be Halloween.
Below are some top tips for making your party go with a bang.
Fundraising at your party
The best way to fundraise at your Halloween party will be to charge a set entrance fee to all guests, charging double for those who have not chosen to dress fancy dress. Alternatively you may wish to ask people for donations on their way in.
With a little imagination you can create the perfect haunted house setting, why not try?
- Decorate the main party room with artificial spider webs
- Place artificial rats in corners of the room and hang plastic bats from light fittings.
- Purchase a Halloween sound effects CD (available at most supermarkets) for an eerie entrance.
- Carve your pumpkins about 3 days before your party
- Candles, candles, candles (think about placemant of these for safety reasons)
- Decorate your windows with Halloween themed stickers (available at most supermarkets)
- Change some of your lightbulbs to coloured ones to give an eerie dark effect.
- Buy both black and orange balloons to hang both inside and outside your house.
- Buy artificial tomb stones for your garden and be sure to shine a light or torch on them.
Instead of laying out a large buffet or serving a full meal, plan to have a large variety of Halloween party snacks on hand for your guests. At parties where you want guests to mingle, dance, or play games, eating heavy meals can get to be troublesome. Save time and money by creating simple snacks for guests to nosh on throughout the evening for example, dips with raw vegetables and tortillas, pizza slices, sandwiches, crisps, pasta salad, garlic bread and Indian starters.
For an extra twist of ghoulish fun why not rename traditional party snacks, for example twiglets could be skeleton bones, peanuts could be roasted bat eyes etc. This is especially fun for any children present at the party.
Scary soundtracks will only get you so far, so make sure that you have a good mix of party and dance music available. Why not throw in some Monster Mash, Pumpkin Head Harvey, Somethin’ in the Swamp, Ghostbusters, and, of course, Thriller.
Have a costume judging event with plenty of prizes. Winning categories can include: Best Costume, Worst Costume, funniest costume and Scariest costume.
If younger children are present why not do some games like apple bobbing or pass the pumpkin. You can find loads of great ideas online.