This year, serial fundraiser Maria Righetti decided to give her fundraising for Parkinson's charities a real boost, by aiming to run just over 50 miles to celebrate her 50th birthday.
A full time personal trainer, Maria roped in some friends and launched the Fantasy Island Fifty - a road run around the Island of Cumbrae offering runners the chance to run between 1 and 5 laps with the entry fee of £25 going to charity.
Over 80 runners took up the challenge, but Maria was the only runner to complete 5 laps. David Searle from East Kilbride completed 4 laps and Trevor Calder from Peterhead and William Evans from Glasgow each completed 3 laps with the remaining 80 runners managing between 10 and 26 miles.
“I am thrilled to have achieved my running goal," said Maria. "The encouragement and support I have received has been amazing and people have been very generous with their donations. I have run many marathons, but the training and mental focus for Ultramarathon running is completely different. It was very emotional when I reached the finishing line on the promenade at Millport and I couldn't believe the crowds waiting to cheer and congratulate me.
"My husband Michael, who has suffered from Parkinson's for twenty years, was there to greet me. It was amazing. My sister in law Marina completed one lap and nephew Marino completed two laps - the most either of them have ever run!"
Two runners from Glasgow, Finance Director Alan Downie and Police Officer Alan Lunn completed two laps of the island each, but were so impressed by Maria's achievement that they raised a further £100 by stripping off on the promenade and plunging into the chilly waters of Millport's Newton Bay, much to the delight of the cheering crowds!
The aim of the birthday celebration fundraising is to reach £10,000. Other fundraising initiatives include the launch of a Sunday morning running club in May, Fenwicks café in Eastwood opening extra hours with all monies raised going to Maria's charity fund and still to come is the 'After Run' party scheduled for September 30 in Glasgow's Mal Maison.
The Fantasy Island Fifty Run was sponsored by Achilles Heel, Mal Maison, Scottish Building Society, Goals, Fenwicks, Brogans the Fruiters, Duncans Food Services, Millport's Ritz Café and neighbouring Marina's Hair Salon and MDD Advertising - all these organisations donated products and equipment to ensure runners enjoyed a professional and fun event.
To date, £8,000 has been raised and it looks as if Maria will break through the £10,000 barrier with the After Run party!