Guest blog – CureSam

Time for another guest blog post, today from Gareth Rowbotham whose 10 year old son, Samuel, has Type 1 diabetes. Gareth has recently set up a new website called CureSam to help raise money for Diabetes UK. You can read more about how Gareth and Sam get on by visiting their site and by following them on Twitter, but first, here’s some background from Gareth…

My 10 year old son Samuel was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on July 7th 2010 – not one of our better days, let me tell you.

In the days that followed Samuel, my wife and I felt a lot of different emotions. There was shock at the original diagnosis. He had been ill for a while and so there was relief that we could pin it on something. There was confusion as we struggled to get to grips with the condition and all the different things we needed to learn about to manage it.

However, for me, I’m slightly ashamed to say, my overriding emotion in the weeks following diagnosis was one of anger. I was cross – I felt like someone had poisoned my son. I wanted someone to blame, and of course there isn’t anyone. A typical male response, possibly. I am a bit of a control freak and in my day to day job I’m used to sorting problems. This was one problem I couldn’t sort.

I realised straight away that being angry wasn’t going to solve anything, but that doesn’t make it go away, so I needed to channel it. I have always listed cycling as one of my hobbies and in the last couple of years had gotten quite serious about road cycling. Quite co-incidentally, the first weekend we were home from the hospital after Samuel was diagnosed, I was flicking through a copy of Balance and noticed an advert for the London to Paris Cycle Challenge. Here I thought was an opportunity to channel my negative energies into something positive. So I signed up.

The challenge required participants to raise over £1100 to take part, of which just under half goes towards the cost of the trip, with the balance going to Diabetes UK. I embarked on the fund raising route that I suppose everybody goes through when taking part in a challenge like this. Be it a cycle ride from London to Paris, a parachute jump, the London Marathon, or whatever. You sign up for something a little outside your comfort zone, then ask all your friends and work colleagues to dig deep and sponsor you. Presumably, the logic goes that the further outside your comfort zone the challenge is, the more people will be impressed and the more they will donate. And to their credit, lots of people did stump up. And I did the cycle challenge and had a thoroughly good time.

The £1,500 I have raised to date is part of nearly £40,000 that the group who did the challenge have raised in total. But to put this in context, Diabetes UK spent over £7 million last year on research. When I thought about it in those terms, my fundraising feels like a drop in the ocean. And if I do another challenge next year, I don’t expect my friends and colleagues will be quite so generous. And by the third or fourth challenge, they’ll probably cross the road when they see me coming. “Here comes Gareth with the diabetes chip on his shoulder. I wonder how much he wants now!” Not really the best way to engender yourself to your mates! I don’t want to become that bloke always asking for more sponsorship money.

So thinking outside the box a bit, how could I try and raise funds for a cure, without tapping up my mates. That’s where I came from with

Inspired by a cycling site called Fat Cyclist I have followed for about a year, could I put together an interesting, irreverent and informative website that would bring visitors? And if I got lots of them, could it generate revenue, either from advertising or other sources? We shall see. It is an experiment, if you like, in charity fund raising in the digital age.

The site is called CureSam after my son, but Samuel is just one of around 280,000 people with Type 1 diabetes in the UK. However, if we can cure him, obviously we are curing everyone. So he will be part symbol, part mascot, part metaphor.

By sharing experiences, promoting the positives, removing myths and increasing awareness, I hope that the site will generate enough traffic that companies might pay to advertise on the site. Any revenue raised will of course go to Diabetes UK.

If you like it, please comment, and pass the link to your friends so they can visit it. In a way, you are doing the fund raising, because your visits will mean more traffic, which hopefully will mean more advertising revenue. So please click on it as often as you can. If you don’t like it, please let me know how I can improve it. Any positive criticism is always welcome, if it means I can improve things, and hopefully improve visitor numbers – which would mean more money raised for Diabetes UK.

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Fantastic, clever idea Gareth; have added your site to my favourites. My 4 yr old diagnosed also in July of this year, couple of weeks after Sam, I wish you and your family well. Louise. x