Turning tea-light candles into the biggest pot of money

(Above) At just five years old, Anais was diagnosed in 2017 with Wilms tumor, a rare cancer of the kidney, which had spread to other parts of her body.

Leeds-based children’s cancer charity, Candlelighters, is launching its Bright Sparks Challenge, a new initiative to join forces with local businesses and raise vital funds.

Bright Sparks is an exciting opportunity for employees to develop creative, entrepreneurial and business skills whilst in turn, bringing light and hope to children and families affected by childhood cancer in Yorkshire.

Upon entering the Candlelighters Bright Sparks Challenge, teams of up to eight employees are tasked with turning tea-light candles into the biggest pot of money that they can, competing with other teams across the county to see who can take the crown of ‘Candlelighters Brightest Sparks’!

The Bright Sparks Challenge has been developed by Candlelighters to give businesses the opportunity to support a crucial Yorkshire charity with an initiative that will motivate and develop their people, at a time when many learning and development budgets have been cut.

With support from Candlelighters and a panel of local leading industry experts, team members will have the chance to learn new skills and develop the profile of themselves and their businesses.

Candlelighters’ Bright Sparks Project Manager, Chris Salt, said, “We’ve seen the negative impact of COVID-19 on the businesses that support us and wanted to launch a project that adds value to their business during these challenging times.

“Our Bright Sparks Challenge will give businesses the opportunity to develop and motivate their teams and to inject a bit of fun into their workplace, which will help morale as we venture into the next phase of pandemic restrictions”.

The Bright Sparks Challenge begins on 1st December and entrants will have four months to use their tea-lights to raise as much money as possible for Candlelighters and the children and families it supports.

For 40 years Candlelighters has brought light to children and families affected by childhood cancer in the darkest of times, by providing emotional, practical and financial support. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt by these families for some time, and for as long as it is, Candlelighters is determined to be there to support them. By adapting its support services, the charity is ensuring families are not facing these uncertain times alone.

Candlelighters relies solely on the generous support of the community to continue delivering its services and like many charities, has seen a huge gap in funding due to mass participation event cancellations and a severe drop in community and corporate fundraising. The charity experienced a 41% reduction in core fundraising in the first half of this year and this is expected to continue, if not worsen, for the foreseeable future.

Leanne Windell, Head of Fundraising and Marketing at Candlelighters, added, “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on fundraising across the entire charity sector, including at Candlelighters, which means support from businesses in our region is needed now more than ever.

“We’re excited to launch Bright Sparks and hope that many businesses will get involved. It’s an interesting and fun way for businesses to develop and motivate their teams whilst supporting a local charity – and all they need to give is time!”

Businesses that take part in the Bright Sparks Challenge will be supporting children like Anais. At just five years old, Anais was diagnosed in 2017 with Wilms tumor, a rare cancer of the kidney, which had spread to other parts of her body. Anais needed to undergo intensive treatment including chemotherapy, two major surgeries and radiotherapy.

Over the three years since Anais was diagnosed, Candlelighters helped the family through the journey of childhood cancer with support on the ward at Leeds Children’s Hospital and at their family support centre, The Square, with services ranging from talking therapies, to Mums and Dads groups and massage therapy.

Mum Becky adds “the square was an oasis when we were living on the ward. The benefits of massage therapy was so needed, sleeping in a hospital fold up bed for months is not good for your back”. Candlelighters also provided the family with much needed holiday breaks, and with financial support.

Becky says “Candlelighters have been fantastic. Whether it’s seeing a friendly face on the ward, or for a chat and a coffee at the square, they have been there. Candlelighters really made you feel you were not alone”.

Anais has now been in remission for two years, however the COVID-19 pandemic has brought even more stresses and strains for the family. Mum Becky says “Anais was on the highly vulnerable list so as a family we were all isolated for 12 weeks. Anais had her 3 month scans cancelled due to COVID. This was extremely stressful as we had to wait another 3 months to check if the cancer had returned”.

Becky asks “Please help, this little charity makes such a difference to families. They provide support when you need it most. We were incredibly lucky to have a positive outcome. No family should have to go through this journey, but having Candlelighters there to help makes it easier”.

If you’d like to enter or find out more about the Bright Sparks Challenge, you can contact Candlelighters at Corporate@candlelighters.org.uk, call them on 0113 322 9283 or visit their website www.candlelighters.org.uk

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