It Was A Very Good Year

Now that the dust has settled on the year of challenges, it seems like a fitting time to look back and also look forward to what the future will bring for ‘Do It For Dan’. If I was to try and describe the year in three words, they would be challenging, hard and rewarding. When I started to think about how I could raise awareness and some money for the Blurt Foundation and Mind in memory of Dan, I thought that I would have to do something different in order to get anyone interested in what I was doing. When I first set my target for the fundraising at £5,000 I thought that it was going to be too high and that it would be hard to reach. As I’m sure Elaine would tell you, I don’t think I fully thought through what was involved or how I would actually do it. The build up to the year didn’t start well due to illness and I think because of that I was always on the back foot.

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When the first challenge came I wasn’t as fit as I had hoped to be and that seemed to be the story of the entire year as I felt like I never got any further than thinking about the next event. I was also struck by illness a few times during the year which didn’t help as just when I thought I was building a level of base fitness I seemed to end up back at square one. All of that said, I did learn a lot about myself and what I can be capable of when I put my mind to it. Given my lack of fitness, in particular in terms of running, the fact that I made it through some of the events still baffles me. There were many people much fitter than me that didn’t make it through some of the harder events like Tough Mudder and Total Warrior but my determination to make it to the end and to make Dan proud got me through the more difficult moments. Every time I thought I had a hit the most difficult point in the challenges, I soon found something more difficult that made the last one look like a walk in the park. The rowing challenge of rowing the distance across the English Channel was particularly brutal and there were many times during it when I would have liked to quit but I managed to push on through the pain and made it to the end despite the agony. If anyone tells you that you can’t achieve something, chances are that if you’re doing it for the right reason then you could be able to achieve it.

The year has also taught me a lot about my own mental health and how I can deal with it. Looking back Elaine was right in that I took far too much on and didn’t really think through the consequences which made it very difficult at times, especially as I was so emotionally involved in everything. It was particularly hard when things didn’t go to plan and I didn’t always take it very well due to the pressure that I put myself under to try and succeed. Through it all though I learnt more about putting things into perspective, how to try and balance many things at once, but above all I found that the fire and determination is still there and that if I can channel it in the right direction then I can achieve anything. I might not have completed all of the events that I originally set out to complete but I did manage to do 12 challenges over the year and on the whole they were very successful. For an overweight, unfit 40 year old dad, I can be proud of the effort that I put in and also of what I achieved. When I set out all of the things that I was going to do I didn’t really have any idea of the time it would take up or the time it would take to set up and run the website and the social media accounts. It was also difficult and at times frustrating, trying to get the word out to people so that you could try and build some support and get to as many people as possible. The effort has all be worth it though as I have reached more people than I thought would be possible and the fundraising has exceeded what was an ambitious target which I didn’t think would be possible.

Even though the original thought was for the challenges to just be over a year, I can’t give up now as there is still a lot of work to be done and even more people to spread the message to. Whilst the coming year won’t be as full of challenges it will still be challenging and I want to give all of the events that I do this year a really good go. Training has been going really well and I seem to be making some progress now so it is all about targeting the events that I have in mind and getting in the best shape I can to challenge them full on. The main aim for the year is Leeds Triathlon (11 September) but I am also trying to get a team together to tackle Total Warrior (12 June). On top of that I’m hoping to have another crack at the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and want to try to fit in my first skydive if I can get below the required weight. How training goes will determine the exact plans but that is the current plan. There are plenty of events out there that I would like to try so there is plenty of challenges out there.

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There are still 31 days until the sponsor page closes and the final total can be announced. If you want to help support the work that the Blurt Foundation and Mind do to help people with mental health issues and to raise awareness, then why not have a look at our sponsor page www.localgiving.com/doitfordan. Alternatively you could show your support by liking our Facebook page www.facebook.com/doitfordan, our Twitter feed www.twitter.com/doitfordan.org.uk or our Instagram page www.instagram.com/doitfordan.org.uk. You could also tell your friends as statistically it is likely that you will know someone who is suffering from a mental health problem. Just like physical health, we all have it but need to know the best way of keeping it on track.

The mission continues to try and raise awareness and to help people understand what it is like when you have mental health problems. As it is estimated that 1 in 4 of us will suffer from mental health conditions, it is essential that we try and break the stigma that surrounds them and keep the conversation going. When anyone loses their battle with mental illness, it is one person too many.

If you want to get involved in any of the challenges or want to help to break the stigma, contact me either by email (stu.middleton@live.co.uk) or through one of the social media channels. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the year of challenges. It has been challenging in so many ways but I couldn’t have got as far as I did without all of the fantastic support that I have had. There have been so many people that have been generous it is impossible to thank them all properly but I really do appreciate everything those people have done to help. I’m still amazed and proud of the amount that we have raised so far, but the challenge continues to try and prevent what happened to Dan happening to anyone else. Thanks again for all your support and I hope that you will continue on the journey with us in the future.

Sending out love and hugs to you all for your support x

 

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