From the previous article, you already know that my desire to run the London marathon had been forming in me for a couple of years. When the official ballot for the ticket entry opened at the end of April 2018, I called upon all of my courage and signed up.
The ballot entry is one of a few possibilities for getting into the London Marathon. The demand for this marathon far exceeds the capacity. Last year, over 400,000 people entered the ballot which is ten times more than the actual space. The chance to get a place through the ballot is really low and so I was not surprised when I received an email stating that I am not amongst those who were lucky in the draw.
Choosing a charity
Since I was counting on failure in the ballot, I was already working with Plan B – to get a place through charity. Getting a charity place means fundraising a certain amount of money. The range is usually somewhere between £1300 and £2800. Every charity sets its own minimum amount that needs to be raised. Some charities also collect admission fees on top of the minimum amount. By the way, there are around 500 charities that offer places in the London Marathon.
I spent a few evenings browsing through charity websites looking for the right one. I had filtered out the biggest and most popular ones as these organizations already have plenty of interested people, including those on waiting lists. I also knew that having an interest in smaller, less popular, charities would give me a better chance to succeed. I ended my search with two charities that I wanted to give a try.
The Ear Foundation
The first charity was for blind children, the other for deaf children. With the first charity, I filled out various online forms, and that was it. This was not ideal as I am supposed to raise so much money and I needed it to be as personal as possible in order to believe that I can do it. On the other hand the second charity, The Ear Foundation, is one I felt very close to from the beginning as they help people suffering from hearing loss (like me!). I found their contact details and emailed them. They came back pretty quickly, and so the conversation begun.
Application form and motivation letter
First, I had to fill in and submit the application, including a motivation letter, where I described my story and why this charity is so close to me. I paid particular attention to those reasons as I really did not want to be refused. I had to describe how I would raise all the money because if you are not able to get the money once your place is confirmed, you can start thinking of a loan straight away. (There is no way to lower the amount you have promised to be raised).
When I sent the papers back to Becky (the coordinator), we exchanged a few emails with each other. I was excited (and a bit nervous too). Becky was very kind and welcoming from the beginning, and her personal approach made me feel that I am in the right place. This feeling turned into reality when I received an official confirmation that I was accepted to be a part of the London Marathon journey and I felt incredibly grateful.
A Story for JustGiving
Soon afterwards my fundraising pack of sweet treats, leaflets, tutorials, and tips on fundraising, arrived. Meanwhile, I put together my story for the JustGiving.com page, through which you can collect money directly into the charity account. JustGiving is the primary source of financial support for me. I admit that writing a story about myself was tricky so I asked for help from the owner of the music school where I teach. I told him about my intention to run the marathon and also confessed about my hearing loss, which he did not know.
He was shocked but his reaction was amazing as it is from most of the people here and so this story was born. The original version was a couple of pages long, so it had to be shortened and yet at the same time highlight what is essential: Whatever life’s traps are, it is important not to give up.
Here in England, it was the first time in my life when people responded: ‘but you should not be ashamed at all, you should be proud of what you have accomplished!’ If you live all the time with inner guilt of living with a disability, it’s hard to listen to compliments and even harder to accept or believe them, so it is difficult for all of these warm words to find their way through your inner barrier.
For me, this run already has a more profound meaning. It’s not just about fulfilling the dream, but about overcoming yourself both physically and psychologically and one published story is not enough to cope with the inner fear and to cease feeling ashamed. It’s a long-distance run, much longer than a marathon.
This article was translated from Czech.