On the 9th April 2011 one of the largest ever events in aid of the Cystinosis Foundation UK took place as around 60 walkers took to the streets of Sheffield on a 11 mile journey between the city’s major football clubs.
The walk started at 9.00am at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium, continued to Don Valley (home of Rotherham United), onto Bramall Lane (home of Sheffield United), then back to the finish at Hillsborough. There was also a stop at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital where Harley Ingham is treated.
Harley, who has Cystinosis, was the inspiration for the walk. A family friend, Mark Hewitt, wanted to support Harley and his parents, Paul and Paula, by raising money for research that will help improve the medicines Harley must take every 6 hours. Mark, who by his own admission, is a bit of a football fanatic decided to organise a walk around the local football stadiums of Sheffield with a "few friends", but the walk took on a life of its own as it grew and grew.
The "few friends" soon became a 60 strong group of eager participants, nearly all of whom were in fancy dress too! As the momentum gathered, the walk also started generating media attention, with features in several local papers including the Sheffield Star, as well as coverage on Radio Sheffield. In addition to the walk, the football clubs of Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United and Rotherham United all supported the event, donating football strips and other memorabilia to help raise more money, and allowing access to their stadiums during the walk itself.
The day was an amazing success and, whilst the total is still to be finalised, over £8,000 has been collected so far, with more still expected. This success is down to the hard work of all of those involved in the organisation of the walk, none more so than Mark Hewitt.
"The day itself was better than I could have imagined, with everyone having so much fun" says Mark. "We had great support from the people of Sheffield whilst we were walking, with shops, businesses and people in general, stopping us to donate on the day".
However, now the walk is done, the work for Mark hasn’t yet stopped. There is much more to be done in terms of post-media activities and, of course, encouraging everyone to collect the sponsorship they have been promised. Mark would also like to thank the following people:
Above all, Mark would like to thank Paula, Paul and the Ingham family for their support in arranging the walk. "They have been an inspiration not only to me, but to all the people that I have spoken to about them, since we found out about Harley diagnosis in January."
We cannot overstate what an amazing day the walk was. As well as the fun and comradeship enjoyed on the day itself, this is a massive fundraising event for the Foundation – one of the biggest in our history. The Foundation is truly grateful to all those who participated and helped organise the walk, particularly Mark Hewitt and the Ingham family, without whom this walk would not have taken place.
However, Mark isn’t finished – The Walk Mark II is planned for 2012 and is open to anyone who wants to participate – please contact us if you are interested. You heard it here first….