“It’s magical seeing what a difference it makes to those individuals in the Upbeats”

Keith Wisdom, a long-time Charlton fan and supporter of the Charlton Upbeats, will be walking to fundraise for Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s (CACT) Down’s syndrome project on Saturday with a twist.

Fans have been encouraged to walk 1 mile for the Upbeats programme on Saturday 25 April, to raise funds for the programme which is entirely run on voluntary donations. And Keith has already fundraised more than £1,000 for the programme.

Supporters can do the walk at home, in their gardens or as their daily exercise in their local area but are encouraged to follow government guidelines.

Keith has been an ever present at the Upbeats Walk and was determined not to let the lockdown prevent him from supporting the project for the sixth year running.

This year, he will be doing the walk in his back garden and a field just outside.

“I’m very fortunate that I’ve got a large garden. I estimate I can do between 10 and 20 laps [between 1.5 and 3 miles]”, Keith said.

“Because I belong to several golf societies and do a bit of golf with CACT, I’ll do it wearing my golf stuff. I’ll carry the golf bag with me as well; it’s around 40 pounds of golf clubs!”

Keith has a number of anecdotes from previous walks.

“A couple of years ago, I was doing something before the walk and I had the wrong shoes on and I did the walk and got the two biggest blisters ever!

“To make it worse, my grandson came on the walk and got tired so I was carrying him on my shoulders with these giant blisters.”

Speaking about why he thinks the project resonates so much with Charlton fans and other partners, Keith said:

“It’s great that it brings the Charlton family together. It’s magical seeing what a difference it makes to those individuals in the Upbeats and their families as well as the respite it must give them that they can put their children – or young adults – somewhere that they’re safe, looked after and taught various life skills.”

Keith set himself a fundraising target of £1,000 for this year’s walk, and has already got to £1,040 three days ahead of Saturday.

“Fortunately, I know a lot of people so I’ve put it out to around 200 personal friends. A lot of those have come back and contributed. One particular friend has come back with £350.”

Keith also sent a special thanks to fellow Rotary Club of Erith member Dave Cook, who is unable to walk this Saturday but “is pushing all of his friends” to sponsor Keith as the cause “is close to him as well”.

Usually, Keith walks with his family, but this Saturday, his son Steve “is going to do the walk himself local to where he is with my grandson”, he says.

Carl Krauhaus, CACT's Head of Early Help & Prevention, said:

"We're very grateful for the efforts of long-standing Upbeats supporters like Keith, who has taken part in every single walk.

"Clearly it's a sham we won't all be able to walk together on this occasion but it's as important as ever that we reach our fundraising target nonetheless. Fundraising efforts like Keith's go a long way to helping us do that, and we hope as many supporters as possible are able to join him from their own gardens or local parks on Saturday to support the programme."

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

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