Rugby Against Cancer smash through 'The Final Trek' £30,000 fundraising target with challenge still weeks away
An army of fundraisers are putting on their walking boots to raise money for Rugby Against Cancer.
The latest challenge set up by the Portsmouth-based charity has been billed as 'The Final Trek' - and will see walkers clock up 80 miles setting off from Guy's Hospital in London and returning to Portsmouth RFC.
Incredibly, still a few weeks away from the fundraising event taking place on May 29, the JustGiving target of £30,000 has already been surpassed.
Now the hope is the 63-strong walking contingent could at least double that targeted figure with donations being received up until and for a period after the event.
Rugby Against Cancer trustee member Aaron Beesley, who plays for Portsmouth RFC, has been taken back by the 'mind-blowing' support the charity has received for this event - and has seen since it was started three years ago.
He said: ‘I genuinely think this has put us on the map.
‘The fact that we’ve got lots of other rugby clubs involved outside of Hampshire - it helps us grow outside of Hampshire.
‘Initially we only wanted 40 people to do the trek, we thought that would be manageable, but we then had about 30 people on a waiting list ready for people to drop out.
‘As a committee we had people messaging saying they wanted to do it for various reasons, they just wanted to be on board as they wanted to do something awesome for a loved one.
‘We opened it up to 63 which covered the list but we’ve got 10 more people on the waiting list ready for drop-outs.
‘We’ve got 13 people in the support team - every person has a reason why they want to be involved.
‘We gave ourselves a target of £30,000 and we’ve already absolutely smashed that. It’s absolutely mind-blowing and it’s crazy - it’s the only way I can put it. It’s just absolutely gone crazy.’
Rugby Against Cancer might have been started in Portsmouth and remain based in the city, but support continues to arrive from around the country.
The 63 walkers tackling the London to Portsmouth 80-mile trek, expected to take around 30 hours to complete, includes fundraisers from Portsmouth, Havant and US Portsmouth RFCs as well as members of Harlequins and Saracens’ amateur clubs.
Beesley says it's incredible to see the idea he initially had now stand as a recognised charity - an acclaim they received last October.
But stressed Rugby Against Cancer’s rapid growth would not have been possible without fellow trustee members Graham Street, Ben Lanigan, Jim Pearce and Jeff Highcock, as well as those on the committee and the public who continue to donate.
He added: ‘I come back to the whole original idea, I was sat in a pub after the original event kind of shocked, friends were coming up to me saying, ‘where do you go with this? What do you do? It needs to grow.’ I was saying ‘how?’ and what can we do?
‘A few weeks later people were saying it needed to grow and how could they help, but I was thinking I didn’t know where to go with it.
‘I then came up with a niche idea of supporting rugby players and their families who are dealing with cancer.
‘I put the idea out to a few people and they said ‘brilliant’ - never did I think that we would become registered as quick as that and grow as quick as we have. It’s incredible.
‘I came up with the idea but without the team of committee members and trustees we wouldn’t be where we are now.
‘We just want to get us out there a little bit further. We also want to get people to donate, but also to head to the website so they can see how we can support them.’