In the words of Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

So why is the “WHY” so important?

In 2018, Nike may well have pull off a very shrewd marketing move with their anniversary Just do it campaign. You will have no doubt seen or heard about it, but the slogan goes “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything”. The campaign is fronted by the former NFL player Colin Kapernick, made famous for his knelt protest during the American national anthem. He was protesting about the police violence against black people in the US, but some people – including Donald Trump – have called him disrespectful to make such a statement during the anthem. As a result he’s not played in the NFL since 2016 when his contract expired.

Nike’s Just do it anniversary campaign featuring Colin Kapernick

Arguably, Nike stepped in where the NFL didn’t (you could say they may have even dropped the ball), backing someone they see as coming out as the winner in all this mess of who is right or wrong. Whether the much talked about Nike campaign is about racism or about simply selling more sportswear, one thing remains true – believing in something is everything and that’s why I’ve got respect for Kapernick.

In 2019 Gillette followed suit with the equally divisive “The Best Men Can Be” campaign, which aimed to highlight the #MeToo movement and tackle bullying and “toxic masculinity”. The main part of the campaign that caused controversy was a two minute advert that replaced Gillette’s famous slogan, “the best a man can get”, with “the best men can be”. The advert portrayed instances of bullying, aggressive behavior, sexism and sexual harassment. The campaign attempted to hold men accountable for those negative behaviors, “We’re inviting all men along this journey with us – to strive to be better, to make us better, and to help each other be better.” Critics of the advert said it paint all men with the same brush and as such many boycotted the product.

A still of the Gillette advert with the revised slogan “The best men can be”

While very different in their stance and approach, both brands have used their name and the advertising clout to take a stand on an issue they want us to see as important. Whether you agree or view them with cynical eyes – these campaigns seek to demonstrate one thing –

That believing in something, even if its unpopular, has the power to change the world we live in.

Why?

For me, to a point it doesn’t really matter what you believe in, I think its human nature to have the need for “belief” in some form.

I think we all need something to believe in. Something that makes this world a better place, something that fills your heart, something that comforts and lifts you in the darkest of days, because to believe in something gives us a purpose – a mission.

Thirteen-year-old Amy was up to the age of 10 a happy, healthy girl, who loves to watch Netflix horrors and read Goosebumps books.

After several appointments, what doctors thought was tonsillitis was diagnosed was leukaemia, a type of childhood blood cancer. 91% of Amy’s blood was affected and if she hadn’t gone to hospital that day, they said, she could have died in her sleep within days. She began intensive chemotherapy, injected straight in to her spine, the same day and was very poorly for the first 6 weeks. Amy quickly dropped three stone in weight, due to problems keeping food down, and had to stay inside and away from other people because of the high risk of infection.

Amy’s Mum, Ciara, gave up work to stay with her in hospital Monday-Friday, and dad Arron worked to support the family as well as staying over the weekends. The parents had to care for Amy’s two siblings at home in between all of this. The family was torn apart, not sleeping under the same roof for nine months.

Amy’s leukaemia can’t ever be cured, but she is in remission and will need regular check-ups for the foreseeable future. She rang the end of treatment bell in September 2018. Now, she’s ready for a fresh start. 

The adrenaline rush of watching horror movies has always fascinated Amy, and Wishgranter Dan is planning a super-scary adrenaline-fuelled mission for Amy and her two best friends, followed by pizza! Mum Caira says, “She’s so excited for her wish. I’m so proud of her and how she has coped. I love saying that Amy is my daughter. We were supposed to be her rock through all of this, but she ended up being ours. I applied to Make-A-Wish for Amy because I wanted her to have something to draw a line under what’s happened and celebrate the fact it’s all over and that we can close that chapter of her life.”

You can read Amy’s blog in full (as well as sponsor her wish directly) on the Make-A-Wish website.

My WHY

Children like Amy are why – my WHY – my reason for all of these challenges and fundraising for Make-A-Wish.

I don’t know Amy, her family or any of the other children Make-A-Wish support. I don’t have a story like theirs either. It’s odd therefore I guess to have become so emotionally attached to something with which I have no personal connection. All I can say is that it is the injustice, the unfairness and the indiscriminate cruelty of these illnesses that makes me angry and hurt beyond anything I’ve known – no child’s life should be defined by illness, treatments and hospitals. Every child deserves to have the innocence of childhood and enjoy all the adventures, the wonder and joy that it brings.

The wishes that Make-A-Wish grant make a tangible, visible difference to a child at a time when they need some magic in their lives the most. Wishes have the power to rebuild lives torn apart by the cruelty of childhood illnesses. So, this is about turning all of that anger and emotion in to positive action to support the work they do and make sure every child gets the chance to be a child.

YOU can change lives with your support.

Since 1986 Make-A-Wish have granted over 11,000 wishes. In 2018 the Charity granted over 1,000 wishes to children with serious illnesses – more than ever before. But, every year more and more children turn to Make-A-Wish for help and it is only with your support and generosity that the Charity can continue to help them.

Make-A-Wish and the children they support are my why and the reason why in August I will, as part of a 5 person relay team, be running the National Three Peaks. Find out more about the challenge and support us with a donation here.

While the Charity remains at the very heart of what I’m doing, there is another WHY.

A personal search for something on those long, lonely roads. Mine is a journey that is part search for redemption from the guilt I feel about the choices I’ve made and partly to put myself in control of my mental health. I’ve made no secret of my battle with depression and anxiety, but finding my WHY, through these challenges, has changed my life – I am happier, I am healthier and I am able to be a better parent.

No fancy adverts or marketing spin required for that, because it is that simple.

So that is why WHY is so damn important.

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