The Extra 26.2

For 87 years, Ketchum has taken pride in always going the extra mile for our clients. 

But 26.2? 

Yes, that’s a full marathon. Sally Arnold’s snap decision to go for it — the entire distance — was actually made when all but one entrant had completed last Sunday’s London Marathon. 

It was 9 pm. It was raining. And she was wearing jeans. (She ditched her soggy ballet flats after Mile 5.) 

The runner she was supporting still had more than 15 miles to go.

The series of events that led to this moment were set in motion months earlier when a small group of Ketchum Pleon London colleagues took on the challenge of supporting wounded war veteran Phil Packer. 

The former Army major, paralyzed from the waist down following a rocket attack in Iraq two years ago, was attempting to complete the London marathon, dedicating each mile to a different charity supporting disabled or deprived young people and injured service personnel.   

With just one stop for physiotherapy, Packer crossed the finish line in 25 hours and 55 minutes to achieve his target of completing the 26.2 miles in under 26 hours for 26 charities.

The pro bono campaign sought to raise both money and awareness for all of the 26 charities. Due to the efforts of our colleagues in London — namely Suzanne Sinden, Avril Lee and Sally — both goals were achieved.  

Wow, were they ever. During the pre-race build-up, double-decker buses and train stations were plastered in posters, the Tower of London blazed with a projection image that ran across the full face of the famous landmark; the story ran everywhere.

Throughout the run, a young support walker from one of 26 charities joined Packer for each one of the 26 miles. And, of course, they were joined by one member of KP London who found herself at Mile 11 on a wet Sunday night with the indefatigable Packer and didn’t want to be left behind.

“There was no way I was not going to see it through,” Sally told us all on Tuesday morning. “The carnage of the photographers trying to get the first shot at the finish line, the media pushing for live interviews . . . Phil crossing it with those 26 kids around him and the emotion that was felt throughout the hundreds of people there . . . It’s something I was so proud to be a part of and will never forget.”

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

As Phil himself put it: “It’s about what you can do — not can’t.”

 For more information on Phil, go to www.philpacker.com

About Jon Higgins

Jon Higgins is responsible for Ketchum’s offices in Asia, Latin America and Middle East & Africa. In these regions, he is responsible for client stewardship, business development, and new ventures, as well as enhancement of the agency’s global reputation for creativity, innovation, and thought leadership. Jon is a member of Ketchum’s Executive Committee. Prior to assuming this role in 2008, Jon was CEO of Ketchum EMEA, covering offices in the U.K., Germany, France, Spain and Italy, as well as an exclusive network of 20 affiliates. In addition, Jon helped lead the creation, global launch and agency integration of the Ketchum Programming Process (KPP), an ambitious undertaking aimed at leveraging the agency's digital strategy, creative resources and unique culture into a consistent approach to client programming. Jon is based in Washington, D.C. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California.

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