We’re over the moon to be able to announce that our ambassador Ben Smith of the 401 Challenge has been shortlisted for Best Volunteer Fundraiser at this year’s National Fundraising Awards. These awards are the ultimate recognition for professional and volunteer fundraisers, and the competition is always very tough for this particular category, with so many fantastic personal fundraising achievements throughout the country.
We’re sure that lots of you are already familiar with Ben’s story, but if not then do read on for an extract of the nomination that we sent to the awards judges. The awards are taking place in early July so we will have everything crossed until then!
“I’m going to run a marathon every day for 401 consecutive days to raise money for you”
In early 2015 Kidscape took a call from Ben Smith. “I’m going to run a marathon every day for 401 consecutive days to raise money for you and Stonewall”, he said. Ben had experienced severe bullying for 8 years of his school life, and the effects had lasted into adulthood, partly responsible for him having a mini-stroke at the age of 29. After taking up running during his rehabilitation from his illness, and finding that it had a hugely positive impact on his mental health, he made a decision to attempt a fundraising challenge the likes of which had never been attempted before. Ben came out as gay in his early thirties and was determined to raise money for charities that fought hard to tackle bullying and prejudice at school.
The 401 Challenge was born and between September 2015 and October 2016 Ben travelled the length and breadth of the country, running a marathon every day as well as giving talks to over 100 schools about his experiences and the reason for his challenge. Despite suffering some serious injuries and illnesses, Ben completed his challenge in Bristol after running the equivalent distance of London to Sydney. Having set an initial target of £250,000, his incredible efforts caught the attention of the country’s media outlets, running clubs and many other groups, leading to the final fundraising total hitting just over £300,000.
Ben’s achievements as a fundraiser are without compare. He gave up his job and sold his house to fund the challenge, and showed total dedication to the causes he cares about so much. Ben is Kidscape’s largest ever individual fundraiser, and the difference his efforts have made to our charity are immense.
Since the 401 Challenge ended Ben has become an ambassador for Kidscape and continues to promote our cause with great dedication and commitment.