Can buying a raffle ticket really stop children dying?

So, nearly 3 weeks into January and 3000 miles is progressing well despite the best efforts of the weather, forcing me off the streets and into the gym, and helicopter crashes disrupting my morning cycle commute. I’m up to 108.5 miles (which for anyone who has worked out the weekly mileage maths is clearly under target), however my focus until April is getting a PB in the London Marathon, and for the moment that requires short and sharp fitness bursts rather than lots of miles…

More importantly, your wonderful generosity has raised a whopping £830 for Save the Children and the Motor Neurone Disease Association. This includes proceeds from a raffle for Save the Children that over fifty of you bought tickets for, raising enough to keep ten children in school for a year, or buy emergency food to help 15 malnourished children begin their recovery, or help provide specialist emotional support for a traumatised child refugee from Syria.

On a small scale, that’s how much can be achieved in just two weeks. But what about the bigger picture?

There too, we have reason to be optimistic. Between 2010 and 2011, the number of children dying of preventable causes dropped from 7.6 million to 6.9 million- the biggest drop in history. Yes, 6.9 unnecessary child deaths are still cause for outrage, but we are making progress like never before.

Within our lifetimes, we could see the end of preventable child deaths. This isn’t some head-in-the-clouds dream or unattainable ideal; it’s an optimistic, but not unrealistic and not unachievable projection based on the rates of change we are currently seeing. Changes like a dramatic increase in the number of children vaccinated against killer diseases and a slow but sure improvement in vulnerable families’ access to healthcare. Save the Children is helping accelerate these changes and your support makes all the difference.

In the words of Eglantyne Jebb, who founded Save the Children in 1919, “Save the Children is often told that its aims are impossible – that there has always been child suffering and there always will be. We know. It’s impossible only if we make it so. It’s impossible only if we refuse to attempt it.”

There has never been a better moment to try.

New year, new challenge

Call me a mad naive idealist, but I can’t help starting every year feeling wonderfully optimistic and full of excitement about the things I’m going to achieve in the coming 365 days. A straw poll of Facebook tells me I’m not alone. Amongst other resolutions, this year my friends are going to:
– get fit ( x 5, clearly a winner)
– resume learning Arabic
– leave work earlier
– meet more French people (the friend in question has recently moved to Paris)
– wear more lipstick (?)

Last year, I did quite well.
Pass driving test: tick.
Move out: tick.
Secure permanent role at work: tick.
Run sub 3:30 marathon: tick.

I don’t have quite such a tick-box friendly list this year, so instead, I’ve set myself a somewhat ridiculous challenge…

I’m going to run, cycle, or otherwise cover (row, swim, cross train etc) 3000 miles with a maximum of half through cycling. And I’m going to raise £3000 for Save the Children and the Motor Neurone Disease Association while I’m at it.

Just to put the distance in perspective, it’s most of the way to New York, and if I cycle to work and back at least 3 times a week for the whole year I’ll still need to do the equivalent running of fully training for 3 marathons.

Oh, and I’ll also be on my customary dry spell from January through to April 21st – the London Marathon.

Please do sponsor me for this mad endeavour by visiting my virginmoneygiving page and keep following this blog.

So, let’s raise a glass of dry-January Shloer to New Year’s optimism, to doing more exercise, to learning Arabic and to meeting French people.