Someone Special: 1 million miles for Ellie, £1 million for those touched by cancer

ellie for blog

Fundraising can be an exceptionally personal thing. By the nature of fundraising, we pick a charity which means something to us and often, this is because of a connection to a loved one. This is why Virgin Money Giving offers the Someone Special functionality, whereby fundraisers can create a page enabling a community of people to fundraise together with Someone Special in mind, whether this be someone who is going through treatment, someone who is recovering from illness or injury or in memory of someone who has passed away.

This is what Michelle did when she decided that she wanted to fundraise in memory of her daughter, and best friend, Ellie MacDonald. Ellie, like more than 300,000 others per year in the UK, battled cancer; the disease which, in Michelle’s words, “has no respect for age, living standards, genetic make-up or geography“.

Shortly after Ellie died, at the age of 23, her boyfriend- Robert – shared Ellie’s ‘Bucket List’ with her family. When Michelle saw the heartbreaking yet inspirational and powerful point she had put top of the list, she knew she had to do something in Ellie’s name to help her positive and modest legacy live on:

1. Destroy Cancer

After the loss of Ellie, Michelle took to walking, feeling that when she had attained a certain number of steps, she might feel better. She tells us:

“On one of these walks I started thinking “How many miles do I need to walk before I feel better? One thousand, ten thousand, a million?”  I settled on a million as I really didn’t believe that any number of miles would really make me feel better but that number of miles was a huge challenge and surely would be enough. I returned home, grabbed the calculator and started working out how many miles I would need to do a day. Angus, Ellie’s father, confirmed my fear that this number would be impossible, telling me that the task would have been difficult even if I had started as soon as I was born. And then I had one of those rare lightbulb/eureka moments. I did not need to do a million miles on my own! I could do it with the help of Ellie’s friends and their friends”ellie for blog 2

The Fundraising begins

It was from this idea that Michelle’s decision to use a Virgin Money Giving Someone Special page was born. Since the page was opened, nine people who knew Ellie have created pages linked to Ellie’s Someone Special page – meaning that all the money raised on their fundraising pages comes together on Ellie’s page.

Michelle had decided to use Virgin Money Giving because it allowed her to fundraise for multiple charities. She says:

“I could have decided to give all of the money to Cancer Research, a very worthy cause in itself, but my experiences and the nine months spent with Ellie whilst she underwent her treatment made me want to do more than that.  The Maggie’s Centre next to Ninewells Hospital is a wonderful facility; I went in there on one of my lowest days and was shown compassion, friendship and given lunch.  That gave me the strength to carry on the rest of that day and the days to come knowing that I was able to go in whenever I needed to. The third beneficiary is Macmillan Cancer Support; I believe passionately that your surroundings can help your recovery, give you courage whilst going through treatment and make someone’s passing more bearable.

Michelle goes on to say that she loved the fact that the “Someone Special Page” was not a generic page and was a way of celebrating Ellie’s life, as well as the ease with which others can fund raise in Ellie’s name under the page’s umbrella.


Ellie grew up as a shy, modest girl but always setting herself challenges.” Michelle tells us, “She had an inner strength which meant that whatever she decided to do, she did and did for herself or for fundraising for good causes and never in order to brag.

Fundraising for Someone Special

If you want to fundraise with Someone Special in mind, whether this be in someone’s memory, for someone who is going through treatment or for someone who is in recovery, you can do this by setting up a page today.

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