The Billion Steps Challenge 2021
The Fit for Life! Billion Steps Challenge, proudly supported by Novartis was once again back for the 3rd edition of this successful community centred stepping challenge. Being one of our favourite virtual events at the Federation, the call was put out to our global community to step up to the challenge, join together to reach as many steps as possible, while focussing on the holistic benefits of walking and staying active.
Exercise is the best way to remain positive during challenging times and working together towards a common goal increases morale and boosts feelings of connectivity to others. This is especially important during this period of Covid-19. A good walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood, sleep quality, reduces stress and anxiety.
The Challenge launched on 20th September and ran for 70 days using the online fitness platform MoveSpring. Everyone was invited to join and sign up into Teams of between 2 – 10 people, making up various combinations of transplant recipients, medical professionals, living donors and donor families, friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, sports groups, community organisations, and transplant units across the world.
A total of 2082 participants representing 58 countries registered for the challenge, reaching an overall group total of an incredible 1 226 440 954 steps! Each step recognising the importance of organ donation, the success of transplantation and celebrating the gift of life.
All physical activities were recognised and could be converted to steps. Participants were encouraged to convert their non-stepping activities using easy conversion tools, which saw a variety of sport disciplines being counted towards the overall group target. Field hockey, pickleball, kayaking, table tennis, open water swimming, yoga, ice hockey, cycling, ultimate frisbee, netball and volleyball where some of the ways our participants accumulated their steps, along with our usual entries of walkers and runners.
A new feature to this year’s challenge was the unlocking of Milestones at every 200 000 000 steps. A total of 6 Milestones were unlocked during the challenge. Each Milestone delivered information on various health-related topics, motivational tips and mindfulness techniques, aimed to encourage participants to learn more about the benefits of staying active. Prize giveaways were also unlocked at each Milestone with active participants bagging themselves some great prizes, such as Garmin Fitness Watches, Stretching Kits, GoPro, Nutribullet and WTGF Earpods.
The Legacy of the TX Teddy Bear originally launched during the 5K AnyWay virtual event in June 2021 was continued during the Billion Steps Challenge. For every country that participated, one TX Teddy was unlocked and a further 10 Teddys unlocked at each Milestone. A grand total of 118 Teddys were unlocked for transplant youth around the world. These will be distributed around the world through our exciting new Youth program: Transplant Next.
Another great addition to the 2021 Challenge was the Donate Your Steps campaign which called on sporting clubs and group events to make a once off donation of their steps or physical activity to the Billion Steps Challenge. This campaign allowed our message for raising awareness on Organ Donation to reach new audiences. 25 groups pledged their steps to the Billion Steps Challenge, bringing in a total of 79 521 151 additional steps.
Our global steppers were kept entertained and engaged with weekly competitions which motivated participants to get out stepping while taking photos of new weekly themes. Our target challenges encouraged steppers to increase their daily step count. The WTGF gave away new and exciting prizes to thank our supporters for their dedication and creativity. WTGF branded hoodies, socks, travel coffee mugs, water bottles and caps were some of the prizes given away to winning participants.
Most registered steppers showed a notable increase in their daily step counts with many reporting that being accountable to their team members and striving towards a common goal, motivated them to step up to the challenge and push themselves beyond their normal boundaries, improving their fitness and overall wellbeing.
We would like to thank Novartis, our proud sponsor who helped make this challenge possible once again and all our supporting partners from our Member Countries and Organisations for promoting our message across the world.
As we head into 2022, we hope our global community remain inspired and motivated to continue to STEP their way to better health.
“Thank you to WTGF for having all of us stay very active. We are grateful for a way to be connected.” Pepi Fernández, Spain
“I feel so very grateful and blessed to be motivated by so many of you to keep on going even when I been seriously sick. You are all amazing at advocating organ donor awareness” Melanie Moffat, Canada
“Thank you for organizing this exciting challenge which helped not only to appreciate every day and stay active but also to meet wonderful people from different countries and share important moments” Liliia Ozbilen, Russia
“Thanks to all participants around the world. We are stronger together! Hope to see you all in Perth 2023” Teoman Erdoğan, Turkey
“We have 2 groups at Kings College Hospital in London, and we are going to really miss this fabulous challenge. It has been so inclusive & got so many people moving! We have so enjoyed it. Please do it again soon!” Donna Barrington, Great Britain
“I am grateful for 13 colleagues-liver tx and family members, who have taken part in the Billion Steps Challenge for a third time. The event has led us to improve physical and mental health by making us Stay Connected, Stay in good shape, Stay young and Stay fun, even during the pandemic.” Yong-Hwan Han, Korea
“Thanks to our donors we can connect in this beautiful challenge and enjoy from different parts of the world, celebrating life and second opportunities” Maria Medina, Argentina
“It has been very interesting to participate in this challenge. Each photo and chat message was a precious learning, the personal stories, the value and quality of life. For a while, I felt that anything is possible if we organize ourselves with clear objectives and enjoy with others” Lourdes, Uruguay