Highest ever total raised for Down’s syndrome programme

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29th April 2022 14:30pm

Over 190 Charlton fans joined Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) on Saturday 23 April for a record-breaking Upbeats Walk, sponsored by DNEL Events.

After two years of the Upbeats Walk being virtual-only due to the pandemic, CACT was delighted to be able to host this year’s event in-person while also giving the opportunity to supporters based elsewhere to do the walk virtually. 

Previous Upbeats Walk highs saw £27,200 raised in 2017 and £27,000 in 2020 but this year the support for the Upbeats from Charlton fans was even more incredible. More than £36,000 has been raised through this year’s event, the highest ever amount since the walks began!

Funds raised will go towards the Upbeats’ regular football sessions, as well as helping CACT provide the Upbeats with new opportunities like residential trips away from home and enrichment activities.

Prior to the walkers setting off, the Upbeats Garden supported by KW Consulting and Keith Wisdom was officially opened by Charlton legends Bob Bolder and Paul Mortimer.

CACT Ambassador Steve Sutherland and Upbeat Ethan addressed the walkers at the start line. And special guests Thomas Sandgaard and Dr Raelynn Maloney joined the Upbeats at the halfway point of Charlton Lido and Lifestyle Club to help hand out refreshments to walkers, including iPro drinks.

As the walkers came to the end of their 9-mile journey from New Eltham to The Valley, they were greeted at the finish line by Upbeats and Charlton legend Yann Kermorgant. 

The Upbeats then enjoyed the opportunity to play a tournament on The Valley’s pitch prior to kick-off, with medals handed out by striker Mason Burstow and Charlton TV’s Steve Brown.

The Upbeats programme for young people and adults with Down’s syndrome has been running for 14 years and is entirely funded by voluntary donations. 

CACT’s Disability and Mental Health Manager, Terry Peart, said:

“It was great to be back at The Valley again for the first in-person Upbeats Walk in 3 years! 

“We were really pleased with the reception in the stadium and the Upbeats had a fantastic day greeting walkers, playing on the pitch, and doing their lap of honour at half-time.

“I’d like to thank all our walkers and everyone who has donated. Every donation makes a massive difference to the programme, and we’re overwhelmed by the amount donated which means we can continue to offer new opportunities to our Upbeats.

“I'd also like to thank CACT’s Official Events Partner, DNEL Events, whose invaluable support helped to make this year’s event such a success.”

Charlton legend Bob Bolder said:

“I’d just like to say well done to everybody who took part in the walk on Saturday. 

“The walk was lovely, well organised, and of course, the Upbeats’ enthusiasm throughout the walk kept us all going.”

It was also the first Upbeats Walk since CACT linked up with Don’t Screen Us Out, a UK-based group who are actively working for people with Down’s syndrome to be equally valued.

Lynn Murray, Spokesperson for Don't Screen Us Out, said:

“Well done all those who took part or donated to the Upbeats Walk this year raising a record-breaking amount for this great project, and sponsor DNEL for their support which helped make this possible. 

“We at the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign are working for a United Kingdom where negative stereotypes of people with Down’s syndrome no longer exist. The Upbeats project contributes to this by increasing the visibility and inclusion of people with Down’s syndrome and that's something that shouldn't be underestimated."

CACT recently published a report evaluating the success of the Upbeats programme. The report saw the Upbeats themselves and various parents reflect on its impact.

The report found that after attending the Upbeats sessions, 100% of participants have improved their social skills and emotional wellbeing, and made new friends.

Victoria Goldstone, whose son Perry has been part of the Upbeats since its launch, said:

“What CACT provide to all of us has far exceeded anything you could imagine of a football team. We would never have this feeling, atmosphere, and family-feel elsewhere.”

Click here if you would like to donate to the Upbeats programme.

Take a look at what happened on Upbeats Day below!

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