Tom Warburton, 22, from Bedford and former soldier and bestselling author of ‘Sniper One’, Dan Mills, 52, joined forces to help Help for Heroes launch its new ‘socially distanced’ fitness fundraising challenge, Step 2 It. Both Reservists, having been told about Step 2 It, agreed straightaway to be amongst the first people to take part in the challenge and share their experiences in order to encourage others to sign up.
Step 2 It asks participants to sign up at Step2It.helpforheroes.org.uk and do 10,000 steps a day (or an alternative distance to suit them) for 30 days, starting on the day of their choice and getting sponsors to support their challenge. It adds up to a distance of 210 miles overall.
However, as Dan and Tom enjoy pushing their boundaries, both changed it up to maximise the challenge. Dan ran a lot of his daily 10,000 steps – with Step 2 It equating to 2 marathons a week across the 30 days. As Tom’s planned expedition in November to become the youngest person to reach the South Pole unaided has been postponed due to the pandemic, he took to dragging two tyres with him for thousands of steps to simulate what it would have been like pulling his sledge for his Polar trek or running in his wellies which were given to him by one of his trek sponsors, Koolbox.
Both were quick to sign up to Step 2 It as they saw it as an easy way to raise funds to support wounded and sick veterans at a time when Help for Heroes is forecasting a 40% drop in predicted income as a result of the majority of fundraising events being postponed or cancelled because of COVID-19.
Tom, a Reservist in the Mercian Regiment of the British Army, says, “Whether in the Antarctic, at home or on operations, military people do remarkable things to keep us all safe – and if they are wounded or injured while serving it’s important to know that they will get the support they need. Help for Heroes does great work in helping veterans and their families – and Step 2 It is a simple way to help it get the funds it needs to keep doing this.
“For me, it’s been great to have a daily goal to keep up my fitness levels for when I can take on my South Pole challenge and it’s been easy to fit it into my daily life – stepping out before work, at lunchtime or in the evening.”
Dan, who served for 24 years as an Infantry Soldier (reaching the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2), is now in the Army Reserves, joining the 4th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment six years ago and is currently detached to ATU (W) and serving as a Platoon Commander training new recruits. He adds, “I have friends from the military who have lost limbs and who suffer from mental health issues, so I see myself as very lucky not to have experienced this, despite many close calls. I think it’s really important to raise awareness of the support that many veterans need once they’re medically discharged. Doing Step 2 It is a really simple way to do this while raising money at the same time.”
He also recommends it as a great challenge to help with physical and mental health. In a recent survey* among wounded veterans and serving personnel, 65% of respondents said that exercise is something they can use to manage stress and anxiety following lockdown.
David Martin, Head of Supporter Fundraising at Help for Heroes, adds, “We are so grateful to Dan and Tom for taking on Step 2 It and spreading the word among others to sign up. We know from research that there’s been a big increase in veterans saying that they aren’t managing their mental and physical health so well since the start of the pandemic – so the need for support is greater than ever. By signing up, and showing us all how fun Step 2 It can be, Tom and Dan are really making a difference.”
They have both been sharing their walks via social media to encourage others to sign up – you can follow them on Instagram at @tom_warbs and @danmills_author. With their help in spreading the word to others about the challenge, so far 6,099,077 steps have been taken, covering a distance of 16,322km by those participating in Step 2 It.
The Step 2 It challenge is a precursor to a rather bigger challenge which the duo are planning to take on this December, depending on the impact of the pandemic – canoeing the length of the Ganges.