Preston’s cheekiest fun run is back - and is set to be even bigger than ever to honour its founder - brave cancer campaigner Ben Ashworth.
Ben left a lasting impression across Lancashire with his determination to live his life to the fullest and raise as much awareness for cancer charities.
The 38-year-old, who died of bowel cancer in July, was known for his Ben’s Bowel Movements campaign and running six marathons in six months - but perhaps his biggest legacy was his Cheeky Santa Dash - a 5k fun run in Avenham Park dressed in Santa suits - and bum shorts.
Wishing to keep Ben’s dream going, his wife, Louise, of Preston, is inviting people to join in the fun on December 9.
All money raised will go towards Beating Bowel Cancer.
Louise said: “The Cheeky Santa Dash started as one of those crazy ideas that hits you late at night.
“The hope was to bring together our family’s love of Christmas, passion for raising awareness and commitment to generating essential funds. Now in its fourth year, I’m amazed and humbled by everyone’s support.
“After Ben died in July I knew this year’s event would be even more special. I wanted to make this year’s Cheeky Santa Dash even bigger for Ben.
“I want to celebrate what he had achieved and it is a great opportunity to highlight the reasons we started this in the first place.
“This is an opportunity to join in his lust for life, encourage others to exercise and, of course, check your poo.
“We want as many bums in the park as possible.”
Louise, 34, added that whilst Ben’s journey has been hard for her and their three children, the Cheeky Santa Dash has always been a source of fun and inspiration.
She said: “Last year, when Ben had surgery and we were trying to pull together, I didn’t feel like doing the dash.
“But when I saw everyone come together as a community, it is so inspiring. And that inspiration will keep us going.”
Louise admitted she had not thought as far as Christmas but aims to keep Ben’s enthusiasm alive.
She said: “I haven’t thought that far ahead. But we don’t tend to have a habitual tradition and my family will be in LA for my nephew’s wedding.
“But especially with the Santa dash we will carry on doing things Ben loved in his memory and keep the spirit going.”
This year, Louise will have the help of some familiar faces, as she has been in talks with TV presenter Matthew Wright, who is Beating Bowel Cancer ambassador, and BBC Lancashire’s Graham Liver.
Matthew Wright said: “I was gutted I missed the chance to run with Ben but promised him I wouldn’t duck out this year. I’m a man of my word and I look forward to running in Ben’s footsteps, raising money and awareness of bowel cancer along the way.”
Judith Brodie, interim chief executive at Beating Bowel Cancer, said: “As a small charity, we are very close to our supporters and it’s a real privilege for us to work with Louise on this year’s Cheeky Santa Dash.
“Ben was such an inspiration to all those affected by bowel cancer: his good humour and determination to raise awareness of the disease through often difficult times won’t be forgotten. We know there will be a fantastic turnout on December 9 and we look forward to helping Louise honour Ben as he would have wished – with running and laughter.”
•To register visit https://www.beatingbowelcancer.org/get-involved/running/cheeky-santa-dash-2017/
The event is in Avenham Park, Preston, Saturday December 9 at 11.30am. Entry is £10 for adult; £5 for youngsters aged seven to 17 and children under six are free.
A supply of Cheeky Bum shorts will be available on the day. Other attire such as Christmas jumpers, santa suits/hats, baubles and sparkly bits are all very welcome!
For more information email Kathryn.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.