When Sheila McNulty’s husband Tony was diagnosed with prostate cancer, her Bolton Wanderers-supporting family and friends decided to step out with a smile in support of him. Having raised more than £2,000 with her Happy Walk, Sheila gives us her step-by-step guide to organising a fundraising walk that will make everyone smile. 

20 Dec 2016

My husband, Tony, was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in January 2016. He's a lovely family man and a more positive man you couldn't meet. Our sons, Paul and Sean, myself and granddaughter Layla love him very much.

After reading up on this silent killer, I realised so much more needs to be done to get the word out there, so I decided to raise money and awareness in my community with a sponsored walk. Here are my top tips for doing your own...

Step 1: Recruit your nearest and dearest

I set about recruiting family and friends to join what I called our Happy Walk. We had flyers printed to spread the word too.

Step 2: Get your local football team involved

I contacted our local football club, Bolton Wanderers, who we all support as a family  as do our friends. All huge fans. The club kindly put our walk into the football programme and also two of our superheroes, (former Bolton players) John McGinlay and Tony Kelly, joined us for our five-and-a-half-mile walk.

Sheila and Tony standing either side of Tony Kelly

Sheila and Tony standing either side of Tony Kelly on the walk

Step 3: Tell your story

I contacted both of our local radio stations and even went live on one, telling Tony's prostate cancer story. 

Step 4: Go online

With Tony’s approval, I described his journey through chemotherapy on Facebook. I think that alone rallied the troops, and we had plenty of people wanting to join and sponsor us. By the start of the walk, we'd raised £1,000 on our JustGiving page.

Step 5: Make some noise

We started our walk with empty buckets. But with flags, banners, balloons and whistles to bring attention to ourselves, we had the public stopping in their cars to throw money at us. Truly amazing. 

Step 6: Involve the locals

After the walk, we continued collecting and went on a pub crawl too. The small town of Horwich welcomed our Happy Walkers with open arms, contributing at every pub and shop. It was absolutely heart-warming. 

Two Happy Walkers on the march

Step 7: Have a party

We finished our walk and then danced the night away in a local pub, The Tempest, while the cash still poured in.

Step 8: Count the cash

The following morning, Tony and I began counting the bucket donations. We'd raised an additional £850 – overwhelmed was an understatement.  

Step 9: Make it an annual event

Everyone who took part in the walk loved it, and we've decided to do it all again next year. 

Step 10: Repeat steps 1-9 again next year in 2017!

Thank you to all my Happy Walkers and to all who donated but couldn't join the walk.

Merry Christmas!

Sheila

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