‘Biggest Loser Challenge’ raises £14k in memory of Glenarm’s Maggie Black (5)
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Maggie, who was five years old, died in December 2021 from an undiagnosed rare condition, Addison’s Disease.
The ‘Biggest Loser Challenge’, organised by Seamus Lee of Total Training in Carnlough, involved 60 people in six teams signing up to get active, lose weight and raise funds over eight 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 teams all chose names of things that young Maggie had loved: Maggie's Magpies; Dancing Daisies; Tik Tok Divas; Magical Rainbows; Marshmallows; and Maggie's Flock.
Participants signed up for two gym sessions per week, four group walks – at the Ecos Centre, Ballymena; Ronan's Way, Cushendun; The Lakes, Carnlough and Glenariff Forest Park, Waterfoot, (walking a combined 1,320 km in total) - and competing in scavenger hunts, school sports days, calorie burns plus strength and endurance challenges.
They also committed to fundraising activities, including Seamus carrying a 100kg yoke for 5 kilometres, an ‘Orange Week’ at Emma McDermott Hair, Carnlough and Carnlough Art Society donating funds from an exhibition, culminating in a grand masquerade ball.
Over the campaign period 66st 5lb of weight was lost combined with the ‘Individual Biggest Loser’ Gary Patterson losing 29lbs and a total of £14,086 was raised for the Addison’s Disease Self Help Group and the Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership.
Sheenagh Black, Maggie’s mother, 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.”
Formed in 2012, the Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership works to ensure no one is disadvantaged due to the rarity of their condition.
Patrick Toland, CEO of 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 challenge continues on from the ‘Maggie’s Call’ campaign, which lobbied that the Fire and Rescue Service would respond to emergency calls in remote areas until paramedics arrive on the scene.
This led to a pilot being agreed by the then Health Minister Robin Swann in Carnlough, which consequently has saved lives.
Furthermore, the family, supported by the community, has raised money for the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance, in recognition of the huge impact that this service has to play in supporting rural areas; and Ellie’s Retreat, which offers free respite breaks for families who have suffered the loss of a child.