A ‘Biggest Loser’ Campaign which was held in Carnlough, in memory of young Maggie who tragically passed away in December 2021 from an undiagnosed rare condition – Addison’s Disease – has raised over £14,000 for Rare Disease Charities.
The Biggest Loser Campaign organised by Seamus Lee of Total Training in Carnlough, involved 60 amazing people in 6 teams signing up to get active, lose weight and raise funds over 8 weeks to support charities chosen by the Black Family – Addison’s Disease Self Help Group (ADSHG) and the Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership (NIRDP).
The six teams all chose team names of things that young Maggie had loved: Maggie’s Magpies; Dancing Daisies; Tik Tok Diva’s; Magical Rainbows; Marshmallows; and Maggie’s Flock. The teams all signed up to participating in 2 gym sessions per week, 4 group walks at the Ecos Centre, Ballymena; Ronan’s Way, Cushendun; The Lakes, Carnlough; Glenariff Forest Park, Waterfoot (walking a combined 1320 km in total) and competing in Scavenger Hunts, School Sports Days, Calorie burns plus Strength and Endurance challenges.
Not content with the challenges alone the teams also signed up to organise fundraising activities – too many to mention all – but including Seamus Lee himself carrying a 100kg yoke for 5 kilometres; an ‘Orange week’ at Emma McDermott Hair Carnlough; Carnlough Art Society donating funds from an Art Exhibition and culminating in a very grand Masquerade Ball.
Over the 8 week period an amazing 66st 5lb of weight was lost combined with the ‘Individual Biggest Loser’ Gary Patterson losing an amazing 29lbs and a stupendous £14,086 was raised for the Addison’s Disease Self Help Group and the Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership.
Sheenagh Black, Maggie’s mother has said “We are so thankful that the Biggest Loser Challenge was organised in memory of our wee daughter Maggie. We have been so touched by all the little things included to remember Maggie throughout the Challenge – such as the names of the teams and the ‘Orange Week’ at the hair salon – orange was our Maggie’s favourite colour. We have been overwhelmed by the funds that have been raised and are thankful that we will be able to help people affected by Rare Disease as a result. It really is a huge comfort that this campaign in memory of Maggie will help others”.
Patrick Toland CEO of Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership (NIRDP) said: “On behalf of Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership a huge thank you to Seamus Lee and all the participants in the Biggest Loser Challenge and of course once again to Sheenagh Black and her family for nominating NIRDP alongside the Addison’s Disease Self Help Group to benefit. Every penny raised will be used to further the NIRDP vision and provide support to the “rare disease” community.”
The Biggest Loser challenge continues on from the Black family’s campaign “Maggie’s Call” which lobbied that the fire and rescue services would respond to emergency calls in remote areas until the paramedics arrive on the scene. This led to a pilot being agreed by the then Minister for Health, Robin Swann in Carnlough, which consequently has saved lives. Further to this the Black family, supported by their local communities, have raised thousands of pounds for the Air Ambulance, in recognition of the huge impact that this vital service has to play in supporting rural areas, and for the NIRDP to help raise awareness of Rare Conditions. Money has also been raised for Ellie’s Retreat which is a charity offering free respite breaks for families who have suffered the loss of a child.
The Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership would like to thank the Black family for considering others in this time of great loss.