The 'C' word is not holding Joe back!

26 January 2021

The 'C' word is not holding Joe back!

Volunteers are central to our Teens Unite team but with COVID putting a stop to all of our events and fundraising we've been unable to have the whole team together for months. Joe O'Grady is one such volunteer but he wasn't about to let a pandemic get in the way of donating his time. He told us what volunteering has meant to him and why he took on a very special challenge to help support the teens through these difficult months:

"When people think about cancer, it is usually only negative experiences that come to mind. To be able to bring a sense of positivity, community and family during a time that can be so isolating is what makes Teens Unite so special and is why I was so keen to get involved.

I first heard about Teens Unite when I was halfway through my AS exams in May 2017. Whilst on a break from revision, I came across an appeal for volunteers in the local newspaper. I got in touch the same day and within a week of finishing my exams, I was supporting my first fundraising event.  

Towards the end of that summer, I began supporting the Teens Team at workshops, activities, and residential stays. These activities allow the ‘Teens’ to create positive memories, to push themselves physically and mentally and to meet others who understand their situation, creating a network of support that is hugely important throughout and beyond treatment. Being involved in these events is a massive privilege - my role has been simply to facilitate the success of these events by helping everyone to have fun and making sure everyone is involved. Being a similar age to many of the Teens means that my role is unique and makes it easier to build a rapport quickly and create a positive atmosphere. Seeing the impact that being part of this charity has on its beneficiaries and seeing the lifelong friendships they build is why I have continued to stay involved. 

Despite the catastrophic impact of the pandemic, Teens Unite have continued to offer vital support online through workshops and activities and I’ve really enjoyed being a small part of that support, running a couple of the weekly quizzes and supporting various events whilst we can’t meet in person. 

However, I knew that even though the team have done so well to overcome the challenges of the last year, their income was hugely impacted. I wanted to do something to help, which is why I’ve taken on 20 challenges over the Christmas period, in the hope of raising awareness of this impact and hopefully raising a bit of money. These challenges include: 
•    A Mile an Hour Marathon 
•    A 27 Mile walk from Teens Unite to the Spurs Stadium and back
•    A 10K - wearing as many clothes as possible 
•    A 5K – backwards 

I wanted to use the time that I would usually spend volunteering over the Christmas period towards something that would both challenge me and really help the charity, and I would encourage others to do the same if they can. 

I would also encourage anyone who is considering signing up to volunteer to do so. From the moment I signed up, I felt like I was being welcomed into the Teens Unite family and that community atmosphere is reflected at fundraising events, in the office and at Teens' workshops and activities. You’ll make brilliant memories, meet amazing people, and you will never regret signing up."

Joe has now completed his incredible challenge but if you'd like to show your support for the epic efforts he's gone to you can still donate to his JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/joe-ogrady-20challenge

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