In February, leading local health charity Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS) celebrated the return of their annual event, the Red Dress Fun Run proudly supported by MACE, to Stormont Estate after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was a huge success and the charity is delighted to announce £50,000 has been raised to help tackle heart disease in Northern Ireland.
The Red Dress Fun Run is a five-kilometre run or walk event which aims to raise awareness and funds for heart disease. Sadly, four people in Northern Ireland die every day from heart disease and coronary heart disease is the biggest single cause of premature deaths in the under 75s.
Last year, the event went virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions but was nonetheless a great success, with hundreds of the charity’s supporters taking part in their local area. This year, the event was able to return to its home venue of Stormont Estate and the virtual element remained, with participants who were unable to make it to the main event completing 5K their way during the month of February. This all helped NICHS host their biggest and most successful Red Dress Fun Run to date, with just under 600 participants coming together to help the charity in their mission to combat heart disease, for which they are very grateful. Many primary schools throughout Northern Ireland also joined in the fun, hosting their own fun runs in February.
Nadia Duncan, Events and Marketing Manager at NICHS says; “We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who either came to the live event or took part in the Red Dress Run Fun virtually. The support we received this year was phenomenal and to raise £50,000 is just fantastic. It will go a long way in helping us rebuild thousands of lives and make a lasting change towards heart health in Northern Ireland.”
“Today, there are over 335,000 people living with a chest, heart or stroke condition in Northern Ireland – that’s one in five of the population. NICHS has been by the side of the local community since 1946 and it was great to see so many people show their support for our work in our special 75th anniversary year.”
The Red Dress Fun Run is a special event in that it is an all-inclusive fun run and the charity encourages people of every generation, age and ability to take part. Everyone is welcome, even the family pooch, and participants can choose to run, walk, dance, skip or wheel the 5K distance. Isaac Gamble from Belfast is one young fundraiser who really went the extra mile for NICHS this year.
Sadly, 9-year-old Isaac could not attend the live event at Stormont due to testing positive for COVID-19. He didn’t let that stand in his way however and completed his 5K at home on the day, as his family joined the main event. Isaac wanted to take part in the Red Dress Fun Run in memory of his papa, Alec, and raised an amazing £880 for the charity. The following week Isaac and his family went to Stormont to host their own version of the event and Isaac was able to complete the original 5K route.
Having fun is a key element of the Red Dress Fun Run and dressing up is strongly encouraged! NICHS ambassador and firefighter Graham Ross from Whitehead has taken part in the event for the past five years. Graham loves dressing up for his run and this year Spiderman was his superhero of choice. There is a more serious reason for Graham supporting the event, as he runs in memory of his father.
Graham explains; “I lost my dad in 2016 and with every step I take, I get a chance to remember him and raise money to help fight against heart disease. I also run for my little daughter Eva. Being fit and healthy means everything to me and I hope I can inspire other local families, all generations, to join in the fun at the 2023 Red Dress Fun Run and take positive steps to keep well both mentally and physically.”
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s charity partner MACE supported the Red Dress Fun Run. Diane Anthony from MACE says; “We are so proud to support NICHS, and this fantastic event, for another year. It was great to see so many people, like Isaac and Graham, get behind this worthy cause. We are already looking forward to next year’s Red Dress Fun Run and playing our part in raising vital funds to help local people from across Northern Ireland.”
Planning is already underway for next year’s event and NICHS want to make it even bigger and better. Nadia says; “We are delighted to announce the date for next year’s live Red Dress Fun Run is Sunday 26th February 2023 so get the date in your diary now! The success of this year’s event has been tremendous, and we have been blown away by the generosity of everyone who took part, and everyone who donated. We want to extend a big thank you to all our supporters and hope to see even more people sign up for the 2023 event.”
“As a charity, we rely on the public’s support because almost 90% of our care, prevention and research services are funded exclusively by donations. The funds raised from the Red Dress Fun Run are vital in enabling us to continue to support the thousands of local people who need us and to provide life-changing services for them and their families.”
If you would like to sign up for the 2023 Red Dress Fun Run, visit www.nichs.org.uk/RedDressRun For more information on the range of support services available from NICHS, visit https://nichs.org.uk/our-support-services