Given the recent publicity about the recent London Marathon, due to shocking death of Claire Squire, I wondered what is it about people that makes them take time out of their normal lives to train, take part in a challenge and raise money for a cause?
I think it's fair to say that many people do it for the sport, for the prestige and maybe a sense of feeling better about yourself, that you have done your bit for charity in an ever increasing materialistic world. I suppose I would ask, would you give up something like your bottle of wine, fancy dinner, posh coffees or regular beer for a week and donate the money to charity instead? The other side of the coin is the people who donate. Do they do it because their friend is doing something, because they liked a charities marketing campaign, or because they feel they're 'doing their bit' that way?
I would hope that actually while these may be factors, that actually people take part or donate to charity because they are human beings. I suspect in many cases, the true reason people raise money for charity is tragically for reason of love. A death or serious illness in the family, something which has affected the standard of life to those close to them.
I think because we love people, we encounter the worst feeling you can encounter of not being able to do anything to help that loved one. It's very natural then, that as human beings we would want to try and help. Two of the most natural feelings people have in them is compassion and love and without it, we wouldn't be the human beings we are.
Cynics would say, people want to feel a sense of empowerment, that ego comes into many of the challenges people take on. I can't say that's not wholly untrue. In my case I felt helpless regarding the fact Epilepsy charities are underdogs and that they didn't command the presence that a big Cancer charity did for example. I thought the best thing I could do was to be the first woman from the UK to cycle 3000 miles across America officially as part of the RAAM. But the reason I am still planning on doing it and strive for press coverage of it, wasn't so I could become a figurehead. Quite the opposite, I tend to dislike people who show off because they've done something. I wanted to do it, because I was, to be blunt, shit scared one of my friends would die from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death from Epilepsy) and that it could've been prevented if someone had known about the condition and how to deal with seizures.
I make no bones about my ambition to have the attempt documented on television. But it would give me a chance to actually talk about Epilepsy, it's risks and how anyone could help. I'd rather it not be something like RAAM, as the race has it's risks, but if it takes me to do the world toughest endurance sporting event to get the opportunity to talk about Epilepsy, then so be it.
I wouldn't do something with the risks if I didn't feel like I had to, I don't want people to donate to Epilepsy Action or other charities because I died trying, so I'm taking every precaution possible to make sure I'm safe. But there are still people with Epilepsy who don't know about SUDEP and the precautions they should take.
I suppose the I'm cycling to prevent the tragedy that would motivate someone to do something like the RAAM or a marathon, but it's still the love I have for my big brother Phil and my friends like Georgia and Susie that motivates me more than anything to achieve my goal.
I always say, if don't know what you're riding for then it's so much harder to get through the tough periods a race like RAAM throws up.
But I know what I'm riding for, I know the people I'm riding for and when the lactic acid in my muscles really start to kill, that's what will keep me going.