"I wanted to do something that would challenge myself and my team"

John Kiely is a McDonald’s Franchisee and keen supporter of Ronald McDonald House Charities. Here he tells us about the fundraising team he set up in 2013, marathon-running in Coventry and what inspired him to support the Charity.

This is the fourth year that my team, The Cross Cheaping Cheetahs, have run the Coventry Half Marathon. It all started because as a new Franchisee back in 2013, I wanted to do something that would challenge myself and my team and raise money for the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham. A 13.1 mile run certainly ticked those boxes!

Before 2013, the most I had run was three miles but I could not let my team do it without contributing, so I started training and the rest is history!

The Coventry Half Marathon comes at a good time of the year, being usually around the end of February, because it gives you the chance to have a great Christmas and New Year and then get stuck into training and get fit in the first two months. It begins with eating sensibly, giving up alcohol and working to a half marathon plan, building up slowly and surely. The beauty of the event is also that it does not matter what your objective is, whether you want to walk or run, it is great fun for all abilities. You get a real sense of achievement when you finish, particularly if you are part of a team and raising money for a great cause like Ronald McDonald House Charities.

During the four years we have seen our team grow as I have taken on more stores, and we’ve had all sorts of people join us, from Managers and crew to friends, family, local stakeholders such as the Police, business people, suppliers and even families who have used the Birmingham House. We had 17 runners in 2017 of all ages and abilities and we all appreciated every effort, whether the first over the line or the last.

The 2017 event was fantastic, the sun shone, we had a lot of eager participants amongst the 3,500 runners and 1000 kids in their own race, and great support from the Birmingham House! The streets were lined with people cheering and giving out water and sweets. We even had DJ’s and bands along the route to take our minds off any discomfort we may have been feeling. Everyone went home safely, with a medal in hand and heartfelt thanks for participating.

Since becoming a Franchisee in 2013, I have admired the work that Ronald McDonald House Charities does in supporting children and families during very difficult times in their lives. I have also heard first-hand how the Birmingham House has helped families since it opened in 2009. Since that time the House has supported over 1338 families from around Coventry at an average cost of £425 per family, so the least I could do was to work with the local community to support the Charity.

As well as the annual Half Marathons, I participate in the Charity’s Golf Days (although I am rubbish!) and I like to attend the Annual Gala Dinner with friends, booking a table for the runners to enjoy themselves and raise money. This is in addition to all of the fundraising activities my great staff carry out at our restaurants.

Ronald McDonald House Charities is a great charity that needs continuous support from as many people as possible. Having seen the work they do in Birmingham to support families with seriously ill children in hospital, it does spur me on to achieve fund raising targets, whilst also putting people together to embrace a team spirit, sense of achievement and pride. I would encourage anyone to join any of the teams (including mine) that are fundraising, or as an individual to think of something that you have always wanted to do to challenge yourself and raise money in the process.

Ronald McDonald House Charities have a great programme of events throughout the year. The challenges allow you to stretch yourself and meet up with great people with a common aim - achievement - personal, team and charity!

Thanks to their hard work fundraising and many generous donors, The Cross Cheaping Cheetahs raised a fantastic £3121 running in the 2017 Coventry Half Marathon.

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