Our work Real life stories Alexey Makarov: Bald for the greater good Raising funds to save lives: “I’m really happy that together with Gift of Life we are able to help sick children” The World Cup Russia is approaching its finals on 15 July, and Gift of Life supporter and hardcore fan of the England football team Alexey Makarov is getting ready to shave his hair off again for the charity. Alexey is raising funds to help 16-year-old footballer Sergei Gerasimov from Samara, one of the World Cup cities. This promising young sportsman, who’s scored wins at regional and city tournaments, has suddenly found himself faced with the worst matchup of all—a deadly illness. Sergei Gerasimov in the hospital in Moscow Sergei’s been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and he needs a bone marrow transplant to stay alive and beat cancer. The surgery costs over £20,000, and Sergei’s family can’t come up with that much money. Together we are hoping to raise every last penny for Sergei. Join efforts with Alexey and donate to Sergei now. Alexey, your campaign to help Sergei will be your third charity fundraiser since you moved to England. Did you help any non-profit organisations while you were living in Russia? While I was living in Russia, the idea of charity donations wasn't really on my radar. It was only in England that I realised how much it matters, and what a difference it makes, to help people in need. My English friends, with whom I regularly gather in the local pub to chat about news, football and politics, are often involved in charity work and donating to all kinds of organisations. And we're mostly talking retired people without much by way of disposable income. Their example has led me to not only donate to a variety of charities but to lead fundraising campaigns myself. My first campaign was for a local English charity. It drew a lot of support from my Russian friends in England, fellow pubgoers and more. Why did you decide to help Gift of Life in particular? My second campaign was for Gift of Life, the UK sister charity to Podari Zhizn. As well as just wanting to help the most effective and respected Russian charity and the kids in need of anti-cancer drugs, my plan was to draw Russian people's attention to the overall issue of giving aid. I was also counting on my friends back home to throw themselves into supporting a campaign for the benefit of Podari Zhizn's children in a way that English pensioners wouldn't. Fundraising for Gift of Life, 2016 What difficulties do you have to overcome as a volunteer fundraiser? It's no mean feat to change the Russian attitude to charity. Though I was able to gather more for Gift of Life and Podari Zhizn than for the English charity from my first campaign, the lion's share of donations still came from Russians and Russian-speaking friends (Ukrainians, Latvians, Lithuanians and Moldovans) living in England. My English friends, on the other hand, let me down when it came to gathering funds for children in Russian hospitals. It's hard for them to get their head around why a vast and resource-rich country like Russia fails to fund its healthcare properly, and how there's a lack of modern medicines and properly-equipped hospitals, especially out in the sticks. And just generally, the English are much more enthusiastic about fundraising for their own people in need. I was disappointed, of course, that my Russian friends only made a modest contribution. But it'll take more than that to stop me. Charity donations must become a habit in Russia too! Before the shave-off... and after Your wife Olga actively supports you in your volunteer work, as do your friends and followers on social networks. It's great how they give you help and leave encouraging messages on your Facebook page. “There’s this man called Alexey Makarov. I have a huge deal of respect for him, and despite the way he’s always needling me, I don’t mind, because he’s a GOOD man. There aren’t many like him around these days. So here’s the thing: Alexey regularly sets up charity events to help sick children or adults. And he genuinely sends money to help them get better. And get this. Right now, living abroad, he’s gathering money to help a kid from Samara. I know for certain that every penny will go where it’s supposed to. Join us! P.S. When I posted that I was changing jobs the other day, Alexey’s very first words were ‘Is there anything I can do to help?” – Olga Sokolenko, Saratov. “I don’t think I need to explain who Alexey Makarov is to most of my Facebook friends! Every year this incredible guy takes part in all sorts of charity events. This time, he’s teamed up with Podari Zhizn to gather money for surgery for a boy from Samara called Sergei. You can check out the details on his page. Better yet, you can follow the link and send him as much as you like to support his campaign. Every little counts. Everyone who takes part will make a difference. We’re the only ones who can help. Don’t let yourself shrug and walk away.” – Evgeniya Koznova, Saratov. That’s right. I’m truly happy and truly grateful to those who read my posts for their support. I’d like to thank everyone who’s ever helped me raise funds from the bottom of my heart. My friends, you’re the best there is. And of course, thanks in advance to everyone who helps me and Gift of Life gather what we still need to pay for Sergei from Samara’s operation. Let’s help him beat his leukaemia together. Join the campaign!