Energetic Essex fundraiser Helen German has embarked on a triathlon summer to boost funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The English A-level teacher from Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, is supporting the UK’s leading dementia research charity with thoughts of her nanna, Phyllis, who has vascular dementia, in mind.
Helen’s ambitious challenge begins on Saturday 21 June with the Great East Swim in Suffolk. Following the 1-mile swim, Helen will swap her swimsuit for trainers to take on the British 10K London Run on Sunday 13 July. She will then jump in the saddle for her grand finale on Sunday 10 August to cycle 100 miles in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100.
The 28 year old is undertaking her energetic summer of events as part of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Target Twelve Hundred challenge. The charity’s fundraising initiative asks people to pledge to raise £1,200 in 12 months, any way they wish.
Ahead of her three-part challenge, Helen completed the ITU Triathlon in London on Sunday 1 June. Describing the triathlon as her “warm-up event for the summer ahead”, when Helen dipped her toe into the Serpentine to begin the 400m swim she had already passed her £1,200 target.
Speaking about her reasons for her unique fundraising challenge, Helen, said:
“Nanna was diagnosed with vascular dementia four years ago, shortly after my granddad passed away. She cared for Granddad for 13 years after a severe stroke left him paralysed down his right side and with a speech impediment. We were told he would never walk or talk again but Nanna is an amazing woman and nursed him back to the point where he could walk and talk.
“After he passed away we noticed she wasn’t eating properly, was repeating conversations and was forgetting to take her medication. She was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2011, aged 86, and we’ve been losing her piece by piece since then. Although I can see her, the Nanna I love is slowly disappearing before my eyes. My whole family was shocked to find out about the lack of funding into dementia research. This is why I’ve created this challenge – to fund vital dementia research.
“Nanna inspired my love of literature and when I was little she used to sit me on her lap and help me with my reading. She used to go on long cycle rides with Granddad, so the cycle part of my challenge is in memory of that. But she absolutely loved swimming so I knew I had to include a swimming element too. The swim in the Serpentine was my first event and it was such a nice feeling to know I had already smashed my fundraising target for Alzheimer’s Research UK. I found out just a few weeks before that Nanna had actually swam in the Serpentine too, so I was literally swimming in her strokes.”
Jodie Vaughan, Community Fundraising Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“What an exciting challenge Helen has set herself this summer! We are incredibly grateful to Helen for the lengths she is going to in order to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK and it’s amazing that she has already smashed her £1,200 target.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people across the UK living with Alzheimer’s disease and forms of dementia, including over 19,000 people in Essex. Research is the answer to beating this devastating condition but funding into dementia research still lags far behind other serious diseases. Alzheimer’s Research UK relies on amazing supporters like Helen to fund its groundbreaking research.”
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