3000 Miles and no sign of stopping.

Posted on by Hope for Tomorrow

“Fundraising for Hope for Tomorrow is not just for the moment. Cancer doesn’t discriminate and you never know when you might need the help that Hope for Tomorrow provides”

When Kevin Gannaway-Pitts embarked on his own personal fitness challenge in 2016 he couldn’t have imagined where it would lead. In the past five years he has inspired hundreds of people to improve their own health and wellbeing, including 140 Hope for tomorrow walkers who have just finished their 1000 mile challenge to support cancer patients. Kevin has been with them every step of the way.

‘Health & Hustle’ was started by Kevin when he worked in Gloucestershire Care Services with the aim of getting NHS staff more active, but it was born of a very personal experience.

Kevin has a long-term neurological condition and he describes a ‘dark place’ one day in 2015 and a shopping trip where a glimpse at his reflection in a mirror changed everything.

“My own experiences have taught me how hard it is to get out of that dark place. There was one particular shopping trip where I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and that day I decided I needed to do something, to make a change, so I started to get myself fit”

“I realised that what I was doing could really help other people. I’d got myself a Fitbit and I’d seen a few other people wearing them at work so I connected with them and asked if they felt like setting ourselves a weekly challenge, more to spur me on than anything”

“To begin with there were only about 10 of us but momentum quickly grew and Health and Hustle was born. I took a chance one day and got in touch with Fitbit Health Solutions and told them about what we were doing and whether there was anything they could do to support the challenges”

“At the time, I was doing all of the administration linked to the challenges manually, people would send me their step counts and I would enter them into a spreadsheet but that couldn’t carry on if I was going to grow the idea. Luckily Fitbit loved what we were doing and they gave me access to a corporate Fitbit portal where everyone could connect their Fitbits and the stats would be input automatically, and things grew from there”.

Kevin Gannaway-Pitts, founder of Health and Hustle and one of the Hope for Tomorrow ‘1000 Milers’

“I’ve been blown away by the individual achievements of the challengers and the community they’ve formed and every mile that I’ve completed has been for everybody in the challenge”

There are now 20 teams enrolled in the Health and Hustle scheme, and more than 700 people taking part, including 140 Hope for Tomorrow supporters who have just finished a challenge they embarked on last June, to each walk 1000 miles over the course of a year.

Kevin is passionate about the positive impact of physical exercise and explains:

“I wanted to promote good mental health as much as physical fitness and we found that everyone performs better and feels better when exercising as part of a group. There’s a better support network, which you can see from the Hope for Tomorrow challenge chat group on WhatsApp, and people encouraging each other and just chatting about their own experiences has made a massive difference”

It’s well documented that physical exercise and mental well-being can greatly improve the outlook for those with cancer diagnoses so the Health and Hustle purpose was a natural fit for Hope for Tomorrow. It’s our mission to improve the lives of cancer patients by enabling them to receive the treatment and support they need within their community, rather than in a hospital oncology centre that could be hours from home or work.

Making up the 140 Hope for Tomorrow challengers are patients and their families, nurses, staff members, volunteers and corporate partner teams. They all walk for different personal reasons, but they are all united in appreciating how important the Mobile Cancer Care Units are to their communities.  They’re from all over the country and they’ve all been frantically fundraising while taking part in the challenge.

Kevin’s own mum has received chemotherapy (among other procedures) on board a Hope for tomorrow unit in Tewkesbury and she’s seen the positive impact it’s had on her life during treatment, as has Kevin.

‘I see the services that are being delivered into the community and they are so important. Mum has to attend so many appointments and the travel was really taking out of her and my dad, so to have her appointments closer to home made a huge difference to their lives”

“Fundraising for Hope for Tomorrow is not just for the moment. Cancer doesn’t discriminate and you never know when you might need the help that Hope for Tomorrow provides”

As a true inspiration to his fellow ‘1000 Milers’ Kevin didn’t stop at 1000 miles and covered more than triple that distance over the 12 months. He’s walked and run in gale-force winds, blizzards and heat-waves and he says it’s the rest of the group that has kept him going:

“I’ve been blown away by the individual achievements of the challengers and the community they’ve formed and every mile that I’ve completed has been for everybody in the challenge”

Refusing to stop at 3000 miles, Kevin is already looking forward to the next Hope for Tomorrow fitness challenge which launches in July 2021.

It costs £198 a day to keep a mobile cancer care unit on the road, and Hope for Tomorrow rely entirely on fundraising and donations to maintain their fleet of 13 units around the UK.

If you would like to find out more about joining an organised fundraising challenge, or start one of your own and change the lives of cancer patients and their families click here.