Kasey and bike

Kasey and Zack get cycling to boost charity funds

One You East Sussex raised over £1,000 during lockdown for Shooting Star Children’s Hospice, thanks to the power of cycling for one of their team members.

Our team, have spent much of their time during lockdown working from home. Having not seen her colleagues for a number of months, Health Coach Kasey Connell decided to catch up via cycling – and raise money for the service’s charity partner.

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Kasey, along with partner Zack Povey worked their way through local villages close to Uckfield and along to Hove. She then cycled the coastal route to Seaford through Newhaven, towards Polegate then Hailsham. Before heading to Eastbourne, with Bexhill and Hastings to finish. Out of the 120 miles planned, 102 were completed by Zack who was only stopped by lack of daylight!

Kasey explained:

“The challenge all started because I was missing our regular Thursday team catch-ups in the thick of the lockdown and I had made a random passing comment during a Zoom team meeting that I would make my way around and visit everyone. With my previous running experience, I considered running to various of my colleagues’ houses to visit and have a big catch up, hence the ‘Big One You East Sussex Catch-Up’. I have always been keen sportswoman but since being hospitalised with meningitis two years ago this had put all but a stop to my endurance career. However, for what I lack in endurance I make up for with pure stubbornness (some may even call it determination), I just can’t quit!

Luckily Thrive Tribe allows the staff to take an additional day of annual leave during the year called ‘Be the Change’ day. This extra day off normally allows staff to volunteer, do some charity work, try a new activity or sport, etc, but during lockdown this seemed impossible. I decided to use my day to undertake the challenge and raise some money for our charity partner this year, Shooting Stars Children’s Hospice by cycling.”

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Shooting Star Children’s Hospices are a leading Children’s hospice charity caring for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families. They support families across Surrey and London from diagnosis to end of life and throughout bereavement with a range of nursing, practical, emotional and medical care.

It costs £10 million a year to maintain the current level of care and just 10% of that income comes from government funding, so they rely on supporter’s generosity to keep the service running. Because of Covid-19, the hospice was potentially facing having to stop providing end-of-life and emergency respite care to so many families who are still relying on them during this difficult and challenging time.

“We had planned for Zack to support me on the day in his car, however as we had such a huge response that the addresses from my colleagues started mounting up quickly, he pointed out that it would be too far to run so we switched to cycling and he came along for the ride as he’s a keen cyclist. We set a date for only 8 weeks later and began the mammoth task of organising the challenge. Once we had all the addresses, we had to plan a route. This is was my time to shine.

Everyone at the office will tell you that I love a spreadsheet!

We worked out the most sensible and practical route. Nerves started to set in when we realised that it totalled approximately 120 miles starting in Tunbridge Wells. Moving south to Hove and then East back to Hastings with detours into Polegate, Hailsham, Eastbourne and Bexhill.  All to see a total of 26 colleagues. It was time to start training, this is when I informed Zack that I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 11, and that was almost 16 years ago!

He had already completed a London to Brighton bike event, so I had a lot of catching up to do.”

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“As the weeks rolled by, practice and planning was going very well. Each week I was adding more miles but then I took a heavy tumble at nearly 30mph and fell badly during a casual practice ride. After an eventful trip to A&E, I was back home resting. I had luckily not broken my pelvis as this was originally suggested and I managed to walk away with some cuts and deep bruising, my helmet, on the other hand, was not as lucky! With the challenge just a week away by this point, my recovery and some of the pre-determined thin and hilly country lanes on the route meant that my confidence had been knocked. So, after a lot of discussions it was decided that it was best to amend how much of the route I took part in.

Zack would still complete the full 120 miles whereas I would join in Lewes and move through to Brighton and back to Hastings as it was safer routes and I was familiar with them.”

“On the day as expected, there were some hiccups. I was unwell the night before so neither of us got much sleep, about 3 hours each in total. Nevertheless, we got to our starting point only 10 minutes later than arranged and we set off on our 120-mile expedition. Despite our late start, Zack managed to make up some time during the first few legs of the route and then I joined him in Lewes as planned. From Lewes it was fairly straight forward through to Hove. For the first time we had encountered a lot of traffic lights (all seemed to be on red, luck was not on our side). Hove to Seaford we encountered hills… a lot of hills. We later found out that there was an alternative cycle route that avoided the hills, the less said about that the better!!

With each stop we were met with love and support which made every hill worth it.

Seaford, Polegate and Hailsham all flew by; smiles and cheering greeted us at every stop. Sadly, the recent crash and my lack of recovery soon reared its ugly head. We made it to Eastbourne without any issues but then I started feeling lightheaded and sick so after 56 miles we thought it best that I stopped. Zack then opted to continue the route and cycle home, but at gone 10:00 pm in the pitch black on some dangerous roads at just over 100 miles he also decided to stop.”

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“I’m so grateful to all my colleagues and friends support throughout the day and whilst I’m disappointed that we didn’t get to the final distance and we didn’t get to see everyone, we did, however, manage to raise over £1000 in donations to the charity. This challenge definitely brought everyone together; whether through supportive messages, donating and sharing the Just Giving page, allowing us to visit or those who even watched and followed us on the cycling app live on the day. I’m grateful to work for such an amazing organisation that did nothing but encourage this idea from the start. The goal of this challenge was a catch-up and bring the OYES team together again. Although it may not have gone as planned, it was still exactly that”.

Generosity from her One You East Sussex colleagues, other staff members and members of the public have pushed Kasey past the £1,000 fundraising mark. However, as she explained, it wasn’t always plain sailing – or cycling – to get to her goal.

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Zack provided us with his perspective after cycling an incredible 102 miles!

“Kasey came to me with the idea of a big run and I’d support her in the car. The stop points were mounting so we decided to cycle instead, and I joined in as I’ve been cycling for a few years and been looking for a longer ride to complete as COVID cancelled my previous arrangements. When Kasey told me that she hadn’t cycled for over 15 years I was a little nervous, but I know how determined she is so had no doubt she’d give it her all. During practice Kasey had a nasty crash and was very lucky to not have injured herself too seriously. The next day she was gutted because she felt like she’d let everyone down.

So, I decided I’d still complete the ride and she could do as little or as much as she wanted.

The night before the ride Kasey was quite unwell so our prep wasn’t great, but we still managed to put in a great effort. Kasey completed around 56 miles and I completed 102 which although not the target amount, I’m very happy with.

If it wasn’t for the lack of daylight, I had planned to continue to the full 120-miles target.

The best thing about the day was the constant support from everyone at One You East Sussex. I was blown away by the words of encouragement to keep us going and then when things got tough towards the end the support was amazing. I’m so grateful to everyone at One You East Sussex even though I’ve still not had the chance to meet some. Their enthusiasm really made the difference.”

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We’re incredibly proud of both their efforts and the incredible total they have raised for Shooting Stars Children’s Hospice by cycling. If you would like to donate, please find Kasey’s justgiving page here.

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