By Jessie Millson, Co-Deputy News Editor
Today, nine friends will run a half marathon to raise money for those suffering in Ukraine.
Organiser Jake Nickerson, an engineering student at the University of Bristol, and his childhood friends from Bradford-on-Avon, will run 13.1 miles along the canal from Trowbridge to Bath.
The group made £2,750 with over £400 in gift aid over the first 36 hours of their campaign. They set up a JustGiving page with a target of £1,000 and have now reached almost £18,000 from around 350 supporters.
The money is going to British-Ukrainian Aid, who support victims of the war ‘to relieve their suffering.’
The team includes two fellow University of Bristol students, Dan Mason-Rheinschmiedt (Engineering) and Alex Gulliford (Management with Innovation). They are also joined by Maksym ('Macks') Oberemok, a UWE student and Ukranian national.
Maksym moved to Bradford-on-Avon aged two and expresses concern for those stuck in Ukraine in a time of conflict. He spends every summer with family in Sumy, a city near the borders of Russia and Belarus.
‘All my family live in Ukraine so the last week has been awful,’ Maksym said. ‘On the first day when everything was escalating we had a phone call from my dad’s sister saying the "the war’s started," there were sirens going off and missiles being launched.’
Maksym now stays in close contact with his family, who are very worried as they ‘live too close to the border to get out of the country.’
Jake showed his concern for anyone who is now at risk during the conflict. He knows Maksym’s family well and ‘wanted to do something to help people like them who are really suffering in Ukraine.
‘We couldn’t just sit and do nothing when people are in dire need.’
The team – none of whom are serious runners – will set off from Trowbridge at 1.30pm. Some donors have given up to £1,000 at a time, and local business Creo Medical is matching every donation.
‘We aren’t the most athletic bunch - I play rugby but my cardio is awful – but we’ll get there one way or another,’ says Jake.
‘Have we prepped? No.’ Daniel tells us.
The group are set to be interviewed by BBC Points West this morning before setting off from Trowbridge, and aim to reach the fountain on Great Pulteney Street, Bath, by 4pm. They will then head to The Hive (Bath) at 5pm.
The team will carry a speaker pumping out music to keep them going as they traverse the Kennet and Avon Canal. They told Epigram that they’ve made a collaborative playlist with some songs to pump them up, including artists such as Kanye West and Knucks.
When asked what others can do to help:
‘Do the same thing as us! It’s incredible how much support we’ve raised over such a short time. [We’re] urging people to get out there and do similar things and raise money. They can also follow our instagram and donate to our JustGiving.’
The others in the group are Dan, Ross, Billy, Henry and Jack.
To donate visit their JustGiving page.
Featured Image: Epigram / Jake Nickerson
Follow the team on Instagram: @runningforukraine2022.