Last Friday Christian Smith set out on a 248-mile charity bike ride, aiming to cycle around Kent in 24 hours. He described his fundraiser as “largely unsupported (because nobody is stupid enough to volunteer!). So there are no motorcycle outriders, support vehicles or hot chicks to wipe my brow.”
His goal was to raise £1,000 in aid of Mind after he had recently suffered from what he described as “a spate of poor mental health” which he said was a “real game-changer in how I view the future”. But he never made it. In the early hours of Saturday morning he was knocked off his bike and killed. Donations on his JustGiving page, set up for his “Kent Epic” had last night soared to more than £58,000 – the vast majority of which had been made after his accident.
Although in very different circumstances, his story echoes that of Claire Squires, who died just one mile from the finishing line of the London Marathon in 2012. She had taken a sports supplement, which has subsequently been banned, and suffered a heart attack. Donations to her chosen charity, the Samaritans, rocketed in the days after her death, and are now just shy of £950,000 – and still rising. And you can’t forget Sam Harper Brighouse, who collapsed and died during last year’s Brighton Marathon, running for Arms Around the Child. His donations stand at more than £33,000.
There are others, but if any comfort is to be taken from these terrible events, it is heartening to know that so much has been raised for good causes, so the legacy of people like Christian, Claire and Sam can live on. But hopefully in the future it won’t take a tragedy to raise this sort of money.