Capitalise on crazes

When I was a kid, each year our summer activity changed.  First year was bikes, second year was roller skating.  Then cricket, then football, then skateboarding.  I wish someone had asked us to take part in a sponsored event. All we ever did was walk laps of our (albeit very pretty) school playing field.

So, a little advice here. If you are in the middle of a “craze”, capitalise on it. And I did.

10 August 1995 Cambridge Evening News

Countless aerobathons

Like Scope, the majority of my work was to arrange aerobathons.  I’m afraid to say that after three years of aerobathons, my overriding memory of them is dread. I am an uncoordinated elephant when it comes to such events. 

Manor Community College, Cambridge donates £259 from their aerobathon challenge (Cambridge Evening News Saturday 7 October 1995)

But aerobics in the 90s were huge, especially step-aerobics.  Fitness videos were big business.  Donned in neon lycra leotards, every film star was releasing their version of the Jane Fonda fitness video.  For a charity worker, this was sponsorship gold.  

“A two-hour aerobics session raised more than £1,700 for the East Anglian Autistic Support Trust. Aerobics instructor Jan Vincent, from Cheveley, near Newmarket organised the session at Bottisham Village College which was attended by more than 50 people from her Moves Fitness classes at Newmarket, Cambridge and Thetford”.
(Cambridge Evening News, 18 July 1996)
The keep-fit fanatics raised £255.30.
Lisa Chapman, fundraiser for the charity, said: “This is the second year the centre has supported us, and we are really very grateful to the volunteers, and to the staff, who provided their own services, and the facilities free of charge.” (Cambridge Evening News 10 August 1995)

And whilst the aerobathons were numerous, they were popular, and for the fundraiser easy to arrange. Most of the work was carried out by the fitness instructor who badgered their classes to take part. The only real effort on my part was providing the leaflets, press release and on-day support. And as you can see from the links, I had expert help from our journalist chairman, Owen.

A memorable event, mainly because I was admonished for not taking part, was at Buchan Street Neighbourhood Centre in Arbury, Cambridge.

A valuable lesson learned. Never ask anyone to do something you are not fully prepared to do yourself.


This event happened by chance because of a young lad with autism and his love of trampolines. 

During the summer holidays, a trampoline club let this young lad use a trampoline for an hour a day. He loved it. 

As I mentioned with the aerobathons, his mother capitalised on the idea and set up a sponsored Tramponline event.  Anyone could join, including her son. He probably had no idea what was happening around him.  But for the people taking part, he was the perfect advert for who was benefiting from the money.  My charity display boards had never received so much attention.

It was a huge success.  And not just for us.

The local press came, took photos, interviewed the mother and ran a piece in the local paper. Suddenly the community had a new love and respect for the young boy in their community, and his special needs.

And from this was sporned the Rollerthon.


Fitkid games

There were various games and races involving obstacle courses, and other fun activities.  Again, EAST families came along to join in.

Owen in Space hopper
Owen on “Hoppy”

But my overriding memory is of EAST’s 6’4″ chairman, Owen, bouncing up and down the hall on a space hopper.  

Not really a sponsored event, this event was a lot of fun nonetheless. It featured a Fitness club for kids based in Ely’s Atrium Club. It was a fun group that worked to get young people interested in exercise at an early age.

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