Leading local health charity, Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS) celebrated the return of their annual event, the Red Dress Fun Run, at Stormont Estate this week.
The Red Dress Fun Run, supported by MACE, is a five kilometre run or walk event which aims to raise funds and awareness for heart disease. Sadly, four people in Northern Ireland die every day from heart disease and coronary heart disease is the biggest single cause of premature deaths in the under 75s.
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s vision is a Northern Ireland free from chest, heart and stroke conditions and the charity is leading the fight against these illnesses by funding ground-breaking research, leading campaign work and providing life-saving prevention and care services. As a charity, NICHS rely on the public’s support. Almost 90% of their work is funded by donations and the funds raised from 2022’s Red Dress Fun Run will be vital in enabling NICHS to continue to support the thousands of local people who need them.
Last year, the event went virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions, with hundreds of participants taking part in their local area and raising a staggering £50,000 to combat heart disease. This year, the event returns to its home venue of Stormont Estate, however the virtual element remains with the charity encouraging participants who cannot make it to the main event to complete 5K their way during the month of February.
NICHS ambassador and firefighter Graham Ross from Whitehead will also be taking part for the fifth year running in memory of his father. Graham always brings the fun to the event and loves, in his words, “dressing up like an eejit and doing silly things if it helps raise awareness and funds for our local heart charity.” In 2021 Graham ran dressed as DC Comic hero The Flash as part of the virtual event but is stepping out as Spider-Man this February.
Graham explains; “I lost my dad in 2016 and with every step I take, I get a chance to remember him and raise money to help fight against heart disease. I hope he will be proud of me. I also run for my little daughter Eva. Being fit and healthy means everything to me and I hope I can inspire other local families, all generations, to join in the fun this February and take positive steps to keep well both mentally and physically.”
Jackie Trainor, Director of Income Generation at NICHS is urging family members of every generation, age and ability to sign up to the event saying; “Today, there are over 335,000 people living with a chest, heart or stroke condition in Northern Ireland - that's one in five of the population. NICHS has been by the side of the local community since 1946 and we hope people will be able to attend the Red Dress Fun Run 2022 to show their support for our work in our special 75th anniversary year.”
“Please support us by running, walking, dancing, skipping or wheeling 5K with us on Sunday 27th February at 11am at Stormont Estate, or, if you can’t make the live event you can do 5K your way any day, or over several days, in February. Dress red, wear your heart on your sleeve to remember a loved one and together we can help rebuild thousands of lives and make a lasting change towards heart health in Northern Ireland. Everyone is welcome to come along and join in the fun - even the family pooch!”
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s charity partner MACE are supporting the Red Dress Fun Run. Diane Anthony from MACE says; “We’re backing NICHS’s call for people to dress up in red and wear their heart on their sleeve at this year’s event. Whether you’re taking part in memory of someone you have lost to heart disease, celebrating someone who is living with a heart condition, or to prevent heart disease happening to someone in the future – sign up and join us to support this worthy cause!”
The charity is also inviting primary school pupils to join in the fun by hosting their own fun run anytime this February. Each school that takes part will receive a certificate of thanks to show how much they raised and there is an opportunity to win some fantastic prizes.
If you have been inspired to step up to the challenge you can sign up to the Red Dress Fun Run at www.nichs.org.uk/RedDressRun A special early bird offer runs until the end of January. You can find out more about getting your primary school involved at www.nichs.org.uk/PSRedDressFunRun