Football fan Jonjo has raised more than £270,000 for research into bowel cancer after his grandmother died of the disease, which also claimed the life of Jonjo’s hero Bobby Moore.
Jonjo,14,was especially close to his nan and began fundraising after she passed away in 2009.He completes huge challenges every year for The Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK. The West Ham fan completed his first event aged nine, a sponsored walk from Wembley to Upton Park. He repeated this in the following two years, and was joined by supporters from across the world.
He has also cycled 700 miles around the grounds of every English Premier League club and spent five days dribbling a football from Southend to West Ham.
In April of this year, he walked from Germany to Wembley to continue raising funds for the charity, the latest in a series of efforts that saw him recognised as the youngest recipient in this year’s New Year’s Honours List.
He carried out the epic walk in his Easter holidays, shortly before being awarded the British Empire Medal, which he received while wearing a waistcoat bearing the names of people who had died from the disease.
Given the devastating news that his son was suffering from a rare illness that would kill him in his teens, Alex Smith was inspired to take on an awe-inspiring charity challenge.
In 2011, Alex learned that his son, Harrison, was suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a debilitating and life-shortening condition. Five years later, and this June, Alex found himself carrying his son and contemplating the sort of physical endurance test that would make most people shiver with fear.
Alex completed an ultra-triathlon - a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a 42.2km run - pulling and pushing Harrison around the course in a specially adapted kit. By anyone’s estimation, it was an astonishingly tough ask but, despite being asked plenty of questions during the 13 hours he was on the course, he answered them all with aplomb.
He has now successfully raised £50,000 for Harrison’s fund, a charity he himself set-up to help find a cure for the disease. In total, since 2011, the family have raised over £1.5m.
Setting off in September 2015, Smith ran 401 marathons in 401 days to raise money for Stonewall and Kidscape, two charities which place fighting bullying at their heart.
Running the marathons in 309 different locations around the UK, Smith was running with the aim of involving and inspiring as many young people to take up running - and preferably run with him - as possible.
He decided to tackle the challenge after suffering from bullying for eight years from the age of 10 onwards. It left him, in his own words, ‘reclusive and unsure of himself’. At the age of 18 he attempted to take his own life as a result of a mental breakdown. At 31, Smith came out as gay - a move which completely transformed his life and, ultimately, led to him taking up running as a way of tackling and releasing stress.
After running 30 marathons in two years, the idea of tackling 401 in 401 days was born. “The 401 Challenge isn’t about being a victim, the challenge is about showing people that no matter what you go through growing up there can always be a positive outcome if you want there to be,” he says.
The winner will be announced on Wednesday 7th December.
Find out more about these incredible charities:
Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK