Rugby talent bids to combat mental health stigma with second lockdown fundraiser
PUBLISHED: 11:34 11 November 2020
A young rugby talent is aiming to complete nearly 5,700 press-ups within a month in a bid to help people struggling with mental health issues.
Will Garner started his fundraising challenge for Mind on November 5 when lockdown began, and plans to reach 5,691 press-ups by December 5.
Will, who is Colts captain at Ely Tigers, aims to represent each person who committed suicide in England and Wales last year with each press-up, and had set an initial fundraising target of £500.
That sum was smashed within three hours of the fundraising page being launched, and has already raised over his revised target of £1,000.
“In 2019, I found on the Office for National Statistics that 5,691 people had committed suicide, so I decided to do one press-up for each person,” Will said.
“I have noticed on the news that lockdown and Covid had a bad effect on mental health, such as being isolated from family members and increased stress.
“I thought Mind would be a good cause to raise money for and press-ups would be a good thing to do.”
This is not the first lockdown fundraiser that the 17-year-old has done.
During the previous lockdown earlier this year, Will raised £900 for NHS Charities by rowing 100km over five days on his father’s rowing machine, something he felt was tricky to achieve.
“I have always wanted to do something like this and saw both lockdowns as a great opportunity to do something big,” he said.
“I aim for about 200 push-ups a day. I’m finding the press-ups okay, I’m spreading them across the day, so a hundred in the morning and a hundred in the evening.
“It’s more tough than the first challenge, but I can see myself completing it.”
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As well as family and friends, Will has also received support from the club he joined at 11-years-old.
“We’re all hugely proud of Will,” Chris Day, chairman of Ely Tigers, said. “He’s a very driven young man with a level of maturity beyond his years.
“We have every confidence in him achieving his goal and wish him the best of luck.”
Will, who studies at Hills Road Sixth Form in Cambridge, is now aiming to reach £2,000, but for him, it’s not all about the money.
“I think it’s making more people aware of the services available and just helping provide as much support as they can,” he said.
“I think lowering the number of people I am representing would be the ultimate goal. It’s deeply saddening and if this could help lower that number, that is what will make me happy.”
To donate, visit Will’s JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/william-garner2.
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