Lucky number 13 holds a special significance for British Road Racing star Lee Johnston – not only is it his race number but it is also the number for the campaign he has set up with friend Stephen Henderson to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Both Lee and RPS Marketing Manager Stephen saw parents being diagnosed with cancer last year. “One of the worst feelings in this world is not being able to help people close to your heart” explains Lee and as Stephen goes onto say “For that reason alone we are starting this campaign to raise awareness and funds for Marie Curie, as the sad fact is – nearly everyone is close to someone with cancer”.
The campaign, named F13K Cancer was started last year with a target fundraising achievement of £13,000 – a chance to help give something back to and help continue the ongoing dedicated work of Marie Curie Cancer Care. At the end of 2015 the campaign had raised almost £20,000 and after a small donation during the year both Lee and Stephen were very proud to present Marie Curie with a cheque for £17,000 at Marie Curie Hospice on 29th January (shown on BBC Northern Ireland, Setanta Sports Irl and Eurosports).
Whilst incorporating Lee’s racing number, the campaign’s logo also helps to build a positive spur from the helplessness we feel when confronted by cancer – “When I think of cancer it’s the first thing I say” says Lee “It’s a defiant declaration that we are standing up to it!”
Stephen developed the campaign’s very popular social media campaign and mid January 2016 launched its own dedicated Twitter account – within 10 days of its launch it had 1800 followers and over 400,000 views. Additionally to managing the Twitter account, Stephen created the F13K Cancer website, produced all the graphics and press releases required for the campaign.
Lee’s fellow road racers including engineering mad and TV personality Guy Martin have donated helmets for auction throughout the 2015 racing season with all proceeds going to Marie Curie Cancer Care. Logo t-shirts and mobile ‘phone cases are also sold through the campaign’s website, in partnership with manufacturing suppliers.
The campaign now has a following of over 100,000 across various social media services, with the largest user figures recorded during last year’s Isle of Man TT race reaching in excess of one million views over the two-week race period. The Isle of Man TT has subsequently given a marquee and talk-show spot for the campaign and in 2016 F13K Cancer will also have a fundraising night at the Ulster Grand Prix. With an amazing start to the year, several large events have now signed to have F13K as charity partners in Northern Ireland and England, which could return tens of thousands for the campaign in 2016.
The biking community has taken the charity to heart and the logo and name have successfully attracted more overt attention from social groups where outward support for Marie Curie’s daffodil emblem has been historically muted. Such positive uptake means that Marie Curie is now formally backing the campaign including handling funds raised, press engagements and site volunteers at events.
F13K Cancer aims to raise at least £50,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care over the course of 2016.