A Tough Mudder’s guide to raising 20K for charity | Make-A-Wish
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A Tough Mudder’s guide to raising 20K for charity

Alex Neilan, Tough Mudder Fundraiser

Working as a paediatric dietician it’s opened my eyes to a lot of suffering of innocent people – and particularly young people.

What Make-A-Wish do is absolutely humbling – focusing on the quality of life rather than longevity is so important for these kids who are sick of having needles poked in them.

That was the initial snowball – but then I started going out and talking about what I was doing and I met so many people who have had wishes granted, or their boyfriend’s had a wish granted, or grandchild, or friend... Then all of a sudden I realised just how much Make-A-Wish has impacted everyone around us – and that’s when I upped the fundraising target from 10K to 20K.

alex and his huge team in make a wish t-shirts

When I initially spoke to Kim in the Events team she told me I could buy 25 Tough Mudder places.

I had a friend with a broken leg sign up – so after that I wasn’t taking no for an answer. We filled them and bought 25 more. Probably the toughest thing was getting people to sign up – but we had a team of 64 by the time it came around in June.

We did lots of different things to raise the money – we’ve currently raised over £21,000.

Street credit…

There’s been some really touching moments. Whilst I was bucket collecting I met this woman and her daughter Elspeth who had her wish granted.

Elspeth had just been brought from Wales by limo, had a red carpet laid out for her, and had a special teddy bear made for her. One of my best mates was dressed as Elmo at the time in a giant red fluffy costume – so he starts waving at the child, this girl in particular was in fits of laughter and couldn’t get enough. To meet the kids themselves, it’s more than just money on a Just Giving page and you realise it’s actually improving people’s lives.

alex finishing a fitness thing

I remember these two 10 year old girls walking down the street in Edinburgh, and they emptied their purses into our buckets because their best friend had just been granted a wish. It was incredible.

alex and a homeless man

I’ll never forget when this homeless man came over with a coffee cup – and he said: “Look Make-A-Wish is very close to my heart and I really love what they do for children – so here’s not much, but take what I have". And he emptied his coffee cup of coppers into my bucket. I was completely gobsmacked and I didn’t get a chance to thank him before he walked away.

The following day, walking through Princes Street I spotted him – ran over and gave him a few pounds and gave him a hug and I got a selfie with him – and put it on Facebook which went kind of viral. It was great to see people repaying him and going over and shaking his hand because of what he had done for our charity.

Moving mountains

I decided to climb Arthur’s seat, a mountain in Edinburgh, every day for the month of March.

This is about an hour and a half walk from my house. I did a video every day on Facebook and made an effort to speak to at least 4 people when I got up there.

There was a laminated picture of me at the top explaining why I was doing it and people started to recognise me.

Pub parties

We did a couple of events at a Malone's Irish bar, which sponsored us, in April we did a Take Me Out night and Pub Olympics.

Heavy-weight hero

In May I was sponsored to carry a 20kg weight with me every day – I named her Kelly – and even took her to a Tinder date!

Sweating it out

alex on an exercise bike

I did sponsored push ups, in training I was able to do about 900, but on the day I did 1,128 – because of all the amazing support. I also did a 24 hour Make-A-Wish Fitness Medley – non-stop exercising for 24 hours – 1001 pull ups, 296km cycle, 111 min plank and 2748 push ups. That was the toughest thing I’ve ever done.

The Tough Mudder transformation

The Tough Mudder event itself really brought out the best in everybody – quiet, reserved people were completely transformed by the day – pulling people out the ice bath, waiting in the rain and cold to help people over obstacles. The team was fantastic.

alex and his team in the mud

I’ve never experienced anything like doing this fundraising – the feeling of fulfilment and all the kind words.

Without the Tough Mudder team none of this would have been possible – they all played a big role – I’m so grateful to everyone that so kindly supported all my personal challenges and everything that was done.

members of Alex's team looking muddy

The Make-A-Wish team have been fantastic. Everyone around you will always be on your side.

I want to do it again next year – but I want a team of 100 people doing Tough Mudder – and to double my fundraising target!

You can follow Alex on his Facebook page here.


If you're inspired by Alex's amazing fundraising efforts and would like to support us this year, why not Choose Your Challenge - run, cycle or push yourself out of your comfort zone with an extreme challenge!

Whatever you choose - you'll be making a huge differrence to the lives of seriously ill children.