Cancer Research UK has launched a direct mail campaign appealing for its supporters to help London marathon competitor Ben Edwards raise £1.13 million and enter the Guinness World Records as "the most sponsored person in a running event".
Edwards has survived cancer twice, after being diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was 16 and experiencing another scare two years later when the disease was found in the lymph nodes in his chest. He has been an active supporter of Cancer Research ever since, and ran the London marathon for the charity in 1999, 2001 and 2002, raising a total of £50,000. This year, Edwards has decided to take his fundraising efforts a stage further by trying to break the record.
Cancer Research has sent a direct mail pack out to 250,000 supporters urging them to sponsor him. The pack consists of a leaflet, a letter from Edwards telling his story and explaining how the money raised will help, and two detachable sponsorship forms: one for the addressee and one to be passed on to a friend.
The outer envelope draws people in with the 'teaser' message "When some people hear the word 'cancer', they run a mile". Inside the pack, the leaflet displays the message "Ben Edwards is running 26 miles", above a triumphant picture of Edwards.
So far £620,000 has been raised towards the total, which is on target for this stage. "It is a pretty stiff goal, but we are giving it our best shot and so is Edwards," said Susan Osborne, executive director of communications at Cancer Research.
"We won't know whether we have reached the target until a week or so after the event because donations can come in until then, but we are pretty confident."
The Daily Mail will be running a story on Edwards, and the BBC plan to interview him on race day.