The national healthcare charity Sue Ryder, which runs Gloucestershire's only in-patient palliative care unit, is asking people to challenge themselves to complete 5k a day throughout December 2022, to raise important funds for its expert care.
Taking on 5k every day of the month — Christmas day included! — participants are encouraged to complete the distance their own way, whether that's by running, walking or jogging; on their own, with a partner or in a bigger group; at whatever time of day suits them best.
The annual December Daily Dash challenge was created in 2015 by Jackie Smith and her partner, Mark, after she sadly lost both parents to cancer within 18 months. Inspired by the care her dad received from Sue Ryder, the pair decided to set themselves a challenge and run 5k every day in December.
They were initially joined by 11 friends and a dog, but the Daily Dash became increasingly popular year after year and has gone on to raise more than £540,000 for Sue Ryder — with over 3,000 people across the country having taken up the challenge since it was first founded.
Last year, one of those people was Mike Pollard, a 70-year-old Gloucestershire resident who lives in Chipping Campden, and was inspired to lace up his trainers for the December Daily Dash while his wife, Brenda, was being cared for at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.
Heartbreakingly, Brenda passed away just a week after he started his challenge but he persevered and became the event's top fundraiser in 2021 — bringing in a whopping £5,637. And this year, he's doing it all over again to mark the anniversary of Brenda's death and celebrate her memory.
Pollard said: 'Sue Ryder is just a wonderful charity. When we arrived at Leckhampton, the care, love and support was just incredible. Brenda fought cancer for two years, as well as struggling with sepsis and pneumonia. She had become frightened of hospitals, but as soon as she got to the hospice, she felt reassured and we found peace.
'She called all the staff her angels. When I look back, she couldn’t have had a better place to spend her final days. The care and love they gave just blew me away.'
When he heard about the December Daily Dash from the hospice staff, Pollard thought it would be the perfect way to repay them for their unwavering support.
He said: 'My daughter recorded me going in and telling Brenda that I’d signed up, and put it out on social media. It resonated with people that I was doing it while she was being looked after at the hospice.
'I reckoned I could raise about £600 and I thought that was pretty good. Gradually, the money started coming in thick and fast, and I’d raised £1,000 by the end of the first week. One of the fundraisers said I’d hit my target so I could stop if I wanted. But it became a bit of a challenge for me — the fundraising leaderboard spurred me on!'
Designed to be as accessible as possible, fundraisers can take part in the December Daily Dash wherever, whenever and however they want, at a pace that suits them.
Keeping spirits high, there's an active online community where participants can share photos, progress updates and motivational tips throughout their 31 days of activity — while its also a fantastic way to stay active over the festive period and boost your own mental and physical wellbeing.
Support Sue Ryder this Christmas and sign up to the December Daily Dash via decemberdailydash.com.