Losing a child is undoubtedly the most difficult experience a parent could endure. Michelle MacDonald experienced such a loss after the death of her daughter Ellie in September 2014. The younger Ms MacDonald succumbed to cancer at the tragically young age of 23, mere weeks after graduating from St Andrews.

In the wake of her daughter’s death, Ms MacDonald found solace in lengthy beachside walks. During one such walk, an epiphany dawned upon her: it would take a million miles to leave behind the pain of losing her daughter. But why walk on her own?

A Million Miles For Ellie was born. Around the world, individuals walk in honour of the young cancer patient, collectively accumulating the one million miles described. Above all, the campaign intends to fulfil the goal of destroying cancer. A Million Miles For Ellie has raised over £60,000 to date in support of cancer research, and that number continues to grow with every step.

For the first time in their respective histories, the St Andrews Charity Fashion Show and the DONT WALK Charity Fashion Show have joined forces in support of the campaign. Committee members and models will walk alongside each other on Saturday 29 October to contribute 1,000 miles to Ms MacDonald’s goal.

Furthermore, FS and DW have orchestrated a charity raffle with tickets priced at £5. The winner will receive a pair of VIP tickets to both fashion shows.

one million miles for ellie
Photo: One Million Miles for Ellie

Committee members share their thoughts on the joint initiative:

Bertie Lumsden, Head of Charity for DW: The idea behind the walk is not about memorialising Ms MacDonald, but carrying on her spirit. She is the reason FS and DW are coming together for the first time ever. And she is the reason up to one hundred people will walk along the Fife Coastal Path on Saturday. To have lived a life, even as short as hers, that has the power to inspire others is truly amazing.

William Klinteberg, Executive Director for FS: Walking played a huge role in overcoming the passing away of Ellie for her mother, Michelle, which eventually inspired the charity campaign. FS and DW are excited to join forces and raise awareness for this very worthy cause by doing what is already an integral part of both our shows: walking.

Andrew Kalinin, Head of Charity for FS: We are extremely proud to be participating in this joint initiative. An event like this has never been done before, and I believe it should finally show the student body as well as the wider public that FS and DONT WALK can and do cooperate. In a sense, this cause transcends both organisations and is able to connect and unify people from different backgrounds and different walks of life. We sincerely hope that our fellow students will join us in our efforts to raise awareness about this serious disease, as well as raise funds in support of this cause.

Jacob Øen, Executive Director for DW: DW and FS are considered two of the largest student events in town. Going into this year, it was important to both teams that we came together for a common cause and showed that, rather than being competitive, we are both committed to raising money and support for our chosen charities. The best way to do this was through supporting a charity together. It felt very natural for both shows to support One Million Miles for Ellie because it is something we collectively were very touched by. Ellie’s ethos is something that both shows are driven by. The decision to support this charity through the walk was done because it allowed both teams to physically come together, to take a step back from our everyday lives and engage with our surroundings in a way we don’t usually have the chance to and to support Ellie’s mom as she works to raise £1 million in Ellie’s name for cancer research.

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