While the world’s best sprinters, hurdlers, and hammer throwers are fine-tuning themselves for this summer’s Olympic Games in London, there is a small army of big fluffy beasts that are doing the same.
But it’s for a totally different 100-meter race than the one that will find the world’s speediest man and woman wearing gold medals. This one is for charity mascots.
The U.K. Press Association reported on the stiff competition for the top 10 contenders, with 17 charity mascots, such as Super Donor Dan from the African Caribbean Leukemia Trust, Sally the Cell from Cancer Research UK, and Paula the Polar Bear from Greenpeace, vying for a spot in the April 1 race. This week, the winners were announced.
The public was asked to vote on Facebook for its favorite ones to decide which mascots will get to go face to face in the big Gold Challenge UK race, with voting open through Feb. 6th.
The Gold Challenge is described as
"a charity challenge where you take on 5, 10, 20 or 30 Olympic or Paralympic sports – and raise money for your favourite charity. Are you curious about Taekwondo? Have you always wanted to try your hand at archery or rowing; running or basketball? The Gold Challenge gives you the chance to test yourselves in a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports. We’re also partnered with the British Olympic Association and Team GB, Sport England, and the British Paralympics Association. The Gold Challenge has over 100 charity partners, in sectors from overseas aid to research into cancer and beyond. We’ve set ourselves a £20m fundraising target. And we’re here to inspire you to new sporting heights as you raise money to transform the lives of people in need at home and across the world."
There are 20,000 tickets being sold to see the April 1st race to get closer to that £20m goal. The initiative is also about the country attempting to get as many British residents in the Olympic (and charitable) spirit as the London 2012 Summer Olympics loom ever closer.
The 17 contenders who were in the running for the April 1st race represent a Who’s Who of British Charity Mascots:
• Archie the Goat from Oxfam GB
• ThePiggyBankKid from PiggyBankKids
• Zippy, George and Bungle from the Rainbow Trust Children's Society
• Humphrey from the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital Charity
• Seb Rhine-Coe from Save the Rhino International
• Panda from WWF UK
• Paddington Bear from Action Medical Research
• Marvin the Moose from Arthur Rank Hospice Charity
• Betty from Breast Cancer Campaign are also hoping to be in the race.
• Homer from Cats Protection
• Hero the Bear from Help for Heroes
• Daffy from Marie Curie Cancer Care
• Ned the Bear from the National Deaf Children's Society
& Walter the Walnut from Orchid, which focuses on fighting cancer in men.