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Abbie's Sparkle Foundation challengers succeed in ambitious 'Miles to the Moon' mission

By Lorna Thompson

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IN A giant leap for a Moray charity, Abbie's Sparkle Foundation challengers have succeeded in "reaching the moon".

A collective effort by a 1085-strong global team took 59 days to smash the 238,855-mile target, the equivalent distance from Earth to the moon. Participants completed the "Miles to the Moon" charity mission on Saturday, November 28.

The challenge, which lifted off on October 1, marked what would have been the 18th birthday of Elgin girl Abbie Main on October 15.

Abbie passed away, aged 15, on Christmas Day, 2017, after living with Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

The mass effort to walk, cycle, run or swim the distance reached more than 100,000 people through news stories and social media, spreading the word of Abbie's story and the good work of the charity she envisaged and founded.

Abbie's charity gives out "sparkles", in the form of gifts and grants, to children with cancer across the UK. In just under three years, Abbie’s Sparkle Foundation has raised nearly £300,000 and helped almost 400 children.

Abbie herself loved cheerleading, gymnastics and running while at primary school.

The moon mission won backing from Star Wars and Trainspotting actor Ewan McGregor, who sent a video message of support, and from former Aberdeen and Scotland footballer Eoin Jess who donned his trainers to help notch up the miles.

The stratospheric target was reached after a rush of new challengers got on board in November.

The charity hopes people will further boost the £9,500 already raised now that the team have reached the ambitious finish line.

Abbie's brother and charity chairman Cameron Main (21) was "over the moon". He said: "Abbie would have been amazed and so proud of everyone.

Abbie Main with her brother, Cameron.
Abbie Main with her brother, Cameron.

"It's amazing to actually reach the moon – it's a long way! To raise this amount of money and awareness for the charity is incredible.

"From the people I've spoken to, the challenge has had such a positive impact on people's lives. They've been out walking the dog three times a day, getting out running after work, and seeing a big boost in fitness. And this will have a big impact on the charity too.

"It's our biggest fundraiser to date in terms of ambition and reach, but not in terms of money raised. We've attracted people from New Zealand, Australia, the US, Canada and from across Europe. We have so many great photos posted from people taking part.

"When we started out we had between 500 to 600 people sign up, and in November we gathered hundreds more people. It was really cool to get so many more people on board and it showed just how far news of the challenge had spread."

Cameron gave special thanks to long-time local supporters Peter Duggie and Colin Scott for their out-of-this-world efforts to fundraise and log miles over the last two months.

Burghead-based Colin committed to run at least 10K every day in October for Abbie. Speyside man Peter, who was 60 this year, walked up and down Ben Rinnes every day – and 12 times on Abbie's birthday – for his part in Miles to the Moon.

Peter also managed to secure £1000 for the challenge fund from Dufftown distiller William Grant & Sons, which backed his effort.

Participants in the Abbie's Sparkle Foundation Miles to the Moon challenge.
Participants in the Abbie's Sparkle Foundation Miles to the Moon challenge.
One of the 1085 participants in the Abbie's Sparkle Foundation Miles to the Moon challenge.
One of the 1085 participants in the Abbie's Sparkle Foundation Miles to the Moon challenge.

Abbie's mum and charity manager Tammy Main, who works at Raigmore Hospital, said: "We thank everyone who took part in any way, big or small.

"Our top two mile loggers were Debbie Hutchinson, from Forres, and Maria McCulloch, from Elgin. They both rallied round team efforts to contribute lots and lots of miles."

The funds raised will help Abbie’s Sparkle Foundation to continue supporting children affected by cancer across the UK and to heighten awareness of childhood cancer.

Miles to the Moon was launched after plans to stage Abbie's 18th Sparkle Ball had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. The ball has been postponed until October 2021.

The challenge was particularly special for Tammy, as she and Abbie would often say to each other, "love you to the moon and back".

Donations can be made at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MILEStotheMOON.

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