Arsenal fan Owen Chengun is using his love of football to help save lives.
He organises annual football tournaments in his home town of Tadley, near Basingstoke, to raise funds for King’s Liver Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
But his fundraising efforts don’t stop there. He ran our London Landmarks Half Marathon in 2019, has already signed up for our 2020 event, and hopes to take on bigger challenges over the next few years.
A way to say thank you
Having raised £6,400 already, and with his sights set on increasing this to £10,000 by the end of 2020, Owen’s ultimate goal is to raise a grand total of £100,000 to say thank you for the care he received at King’s.
“I want to cover the cost of my care and I want the money to go directly to King’s Liver Intensive Care Unit,” says Owen.
I was in a coma for three weeks and they effectively saved my life.”
A family of fundraisers
Owen’s fundraising efforts are a true family affair. He became seriously ill in April 2017 and just three months later, to mark his 18th birthday, his mum and nan organised a giant tea party in aid of King’s. This inspired him to organise his own event and in April 2018 he held his first football tournament with family and friends.
“Football is something I’m really passionate about and I thought it would be a great way to get a lot of people involved,” says Owen, who is studying Football, Business and Marketing at University and aspires to eventually work with elite level players.
“We started off with ten teams and it was a great success, and when we did it again in April 2019 we got 14 teams together with players ranging in age from 14 to 40 plus. My dad, brothers and uncles took part and a lot of the community got involved too. A local school let us use their facilities for free so we were able to play on a full-size pitch and my team played in King’s College Hospital Charity t-shirts.
“Everyone now looks forward to the tournament so we’ve decided to make it an annual event.”
Owen’s older brother, Ryan, completed our half marathon with him this year and his youngest brother also hopes to run with them when he’s old enough to take part in long-distance races.
“We’d never done a long distance run before so we trained for the half-marathon over a period of time,” says Owen.
“The charity sent me a fundraising pack with a training programme and my Consultant Dr Willars also gave me a few tips and a lot of encouragement.
“The first few miles were fine but coming towards the end it was really tough – but really fulfilling.”
Future fundraising plans
Owen now has his sights set on bigger challenges over the next few years, including a full marathon and a possible sky dive. He may even consider taking on more gruelling events such as endurance marathons or a cross channel swim, once all the necessary preparations and training has been completed.
“My goal is to raise as much money as possible for King’s Liver ICU,” says Owen.
“They do such amazing work and it’s so important that they get all the money they can, especially with all the widely reported budget cuts.”