Charlton Athletic fans have once again donned their walking boots and dug deep to raise over £16,000 for the club’s Upbeats project.
For the second year in a row, Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s (CACT) annual fundraising walk for the Down syndrome team was held under coronavirus restrictions with supporters urged to take part by walking a mile or more safely in their local area.
Now in its 13th year overall, the fundraiser that is part of the project provides much-needed activities for young people with the condition, including trips to football tournaments across the country and residential stays.
This year’s event took place ahead of Charlton’s home game against Peterborough and saw fans, women’s team players and men’s team staff all get involved.
The Upbeats also did their one mile walk at The Valley before playing an All-Stars game amongst themselves on the pitch ahead of Charlton’s top of the table clash.
First-team players and coaching staff also watched on intently before the roles were reversed and the Upbeats cheered on Nigel Adkins’ side later in the afternoon.
On the project, Charlton boss Adkins, who did his walk prior to the game, said: “It’s about Charlton Athletic, we are one family and it just epitomises what we’re all about.”
Charlton Athletic’s Upbeats programme is entirely funded by voluntary donations with all money raised going directly back into the initiative.
Lockdown has been difficult for the Upbeats, who, although they have taken part in a range of online activities, have been unable to engage with each other much in person or go on their usual trips.
However, since restrictions eased in March, training sessions are back up and running with CACT planning to run residential trips later this year in addition to other challenges and social activities.
David West, parent of Upbeat Jonathan, said: “Lockdown has been incredibly difficult for Jonathan to be honest.
“Most of his activities have been cancelled, but within that desert, the Upbeats have provided a bit of an oasis.
“They’ve been a tremendous help and very supportive to get us through these tough times.”
Carl Krauhaus, CACT’s Head of Early Help & Prevention, said: “We’re grateful to have raised over £16,000 for the Upbeats through this year’s Upbeats Walk.
“It was a fantastic, sunny day and it was brilliant to see the Upbeats have a great time and engage with each other, staff and the players.”
There is still time to donate to the Upbeats programme, for more information and to do so, visit the CACT fundraising page.