“We had a massive year in 2015 – we expanded into more than 14 countries, had a successful round of investment, and even managed to pick up a Global Summit award along the way! “To match that in 2016 was never going to be easy but I think we pulled it off. Better than that, I think we’ve gone above and beyond our expectations.
“2016 has been by no means easy, but with a bit of dedication, hard work, good staff and a huge number of fantastic clients, PledgeSports are now in 30 countries across 4 continents!
- Richard Pearson, Founder & CEO, PledgeSports.
We have had the pleasure of working with some amazing athletes, teams and even a film during 2016. As difficult as it has been, we have managed to narrow the incredible list down to just five. These five have been chosen based on a mixture of things – they have broken records, re-written history, and defied all odds to achieve their ambitions.
On that soppy note, here’s the PledgeSports Top 5 Moments of 2016:
No. 1 – The Inspiration: Jim Gump
It’s one thing to take on an incredible challenge to better yourself, it’s another thing to do it for many others.
After watching the London Olympics in 2012, Jim Plunkett-Cole (Jim Gump) felt inspired. Come January 2013, he decided to run 10km per day, every single day, for the entire year.
Fast forward to October 2016 and Jim was still running. In fact he had been running for 1,366 days without fail, amassing an incredible 10,000 continuous miles in the company of his trusted collie, Alfredo.
On October 1st, 2016, Jim Gump set off on a 20,000 mile run throughout the US. This run, if completed, would be the longest continuous run in history.
Why is he doing it? Simple. To inspire children around the world to live healthier, more active lifestyles and fight the ever-growing issue of obesity among our youngest generation.
Jim is nothing short of an inspiration and we can’t wait to see his historical run progress through 2017 and beyond.
You can support Jim on his mission or share this amazing story with your friends - here!
No. 2 – The Legend: Marcus Willis
Marcus Willis is without doubt one of the most feel-good, inspirational sports stories we’ve heard this year. In his famous featuring role during Wimbledon last summer, Marcus brought a boyhood dream to life and inspired a generation of young tennis players in the UK.
A professional tennis player, Marcus came to PledgeSports in 2014 to start fundraising and support himself for the coming season. Little did he know that in two years time, he would be stood on Centre Court at Wimbledon involved in an epic encounter with seven-time champion, Roger Federer.
Marcus is the exact reason why we love to see crowdfunding projects come to fruition. After all of his hard work in raising money, going through six rounds of qualifying for Wimbledon, and beating a player ranked 700 places above him in Ričardas Berankis, Marcus deserved all of the recognition he got and more.
No. 3 – The Green Crowdfunding Machine: Irish Hockey
On October 25th, 2015 the Irish Men’s Hockey Team became the first Irish hockey team in history to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Following on from their historic achievement, what stood in their way was the cost of travelling to Rio to compete. Faced with a shortfall of €225,000 in funding, Hockey Ireland joined forces with PledgeSports to try and raise part of money the squad needed to go and represent Ireland.
With a target of €50,000, the team continued their historic performances, this time smashing their fundraising target and becoming the most successful team crowdfunding campaign of Rio 2016 in the process!
A huge shoutout to the fans who supported the team throughout their fundraising efforts. They epitomised what it is to support a team, and in doing so demonstrated the power of crowdfunding in sport.
Its was so good to then see the team compete in Rio and indeed great to see all of the other Olympians and Paralympians we helped on TV rather than our website!
No. 4 – The History-Maker: Sophie Rooney
There are few things better than watching somebody write themselves into the history books.
Sometimes, taking a step back and appreciating the amazing things that people are capable of serves as a timely reminder of how important crowdfunding can be in helping great people make the final step towards their goal.
One such person is Sophie Rooney of Rundinavia. Sophie came to PledgeSports with an inspiring plan to run the length of Scandinavia. She had an equally motivational quote to boot – “Dare Mighty Things”.
Sophie began her run in August, setting off from Norway’s most northerly point with fellow ultra-runner and PledgeSports athlete “Barefoot” Aleks Kashefi - Aleks is currently running the length of Europe – 7,500Km!
Fast-forward three months and Sophie crossed the border from Sweden into Germany, completing her run and in the process becoming the first ever woman to run the entire length of Scandinavia.
Sophie recently told us that she plans to do bigger and better things in the future. After seeing her historical run unfold this year, we can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!
No. 5 – The Tongan Skier: Kasete Skeen
Once every so often the sporting world will conjure up a story so unique and so entertaining you’ll be rubbing your eyes in disbelief. Everyone one has heard of Cool Runnings or Eddie The Eagle. They’re a type of sporting cult classic.
In 2016, we met a the newest character to join an illustrious list of unique sporting icons. He is, of course, Kasete Skeen – the man who quit his job to become Tonga’s first ever Winter Olympic skier.
Kasete is a welcome addition to this list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he is effortlessly cool, just look at him in the photo below?! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the recipe for crowdfunding success is big hair and even bigger ambition.
Speaking of ambition, Kasete has it by the truck-load. In a matter of months he turned his sporting life around, going from a drinking, smoking, unhealthy eater (by his own admission), to a driven, dedicated athlete who captured the imagination of many and garnered a huge amount of support along the way, raising over £11,000!
As noted earlier, we have met so many incredible athletes and teams this year, and it’s unfortunate that we could only choose five for our list. Given that, here are some people from the past year who deserve a mention for their brilliant work and achievements:
Pardon Ndhlovu - Zimbabwean runner, Pardon, had one goal – to represent his country at Rio 2016. While studying for his MBA in Augusta University, Georgia in the US, Pardon managed to run sub-Olympic qualifying times and get himself shortlisted for the Zimbabwean team. From there, the rest is history as he went on to do himself and Zimbabwe proud at the Games.
Karen Darke & Al Aire Films - Many followed the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, but very few will ever have the opportunity to experience the event through the eyes of an athlete. Together, Karen Darke and Al Aire Films raised over €6,000 (more than 300% of their target). This funding allowed them to produce “Para-Riders”, a short film which follows Karen’s Rio experience and her gold medal-winning performance.
Lucy Shuker - After making history at the London 2012 Paralympics, wheelchair tennis player Lucy was determined to return to the Games in Rio and repeat her incredible achievement. Lucy smashed her fundraising target and raised almost £6,5000 with PledgeSports. Come September 14th, after a stellar showing in Rio, Lucy and her doubles partner Jordanne Whiley came away with their second Olympic bronze medals.
Barefoot Aleks -As mentioned above Aleks Kashefi is running the length of Europe and and is already in the frame for our 2017 version of this list. He has also won the award of officially being the most entertaining person on PledgeSports in 2016!