Meet Dave Roper – Our New Ambassador
In any charity there are always unsung heroes working behind the scenes, and when you’re a small independent organisation like Autism All Stars, their contribution really does make all the difference in the world.
Today we’re honouring one such hero – the incredible, unstoppable Dave Roper – by making him our newest Ambassador. Dave has been a huge support to us over the years and we’re thrilled to have him representing us.
Before we met, he’d done lots of fundraising for Help for Heroes, having served in the British Army for many years after signing up when he was just sixteen. Fortunately for All Stars, Dave’s good friend Lily raised funds for us when she took part in ‘Run Reigate’, which was how he first heard about what we do.
Dave told me “I Googled you and saw the work you did for the local area and families, and read your own story and thought ‘YES’. I knew a £1000 sponsorship would benefit a charity like yours way more than a big charity and after chatting online with you and Nigel, I knew just how much every donation meant to you guys.”
Autism is something very close to Dave’s heart, as he and his wife Kirsten have two beautiful young children on the spectrum: Liam who’s just approaching seven, and his younger sister Lucy.
From the start it was obvious that he’s incredibly proud of them both and is utterly devoted to his family, which is always a great incentive when it comes to fundraising, but what followed surpassed anything we could have imagined.
In April 2016 he completed the Brighton Marathon for us dressed as Spider-Man. Spidey ran again in both the London Vitality 10K and the Run Reigate half marathon, raising lots of smiles along with a combined total of over £5,000 which we used to keep our film clubs running and to buy specialist equipment for our portable sensory den.
Dave is also a 4th Degree Black Belt in Choi Kwang Do (which he teaches) and an Insanity Live Instructor, and in July of the same year, he organised a Kickathon, where the fantastic Leatherhead CKD club raised us over £1,400.
Looking for something more challenging, Dave then made the remarkable decision to run the April 2018 Brighton Marathon dressed in full Stormtrooper armour, and ‘Stormtrooper Dave’ was born.
At this point the story becomes even more amazing, as he went on to cut six minutes off the existing world record, making him the current men’s Guinness World Record holder for ‘fastest marathon dressed as a Star Wars character’!
Afterwards, he told me “That was the hardest thing physically that I have ever done! The crowds were simply superb. I high-fived as many people as I physically could and there was so much support from start to finish. As I ran down the final stretch there was Star Wars music blaring over the tannoy. It gave me goosebumps!”
Stormtrooper Dave officially retired (well, he kind of fell to pieces) after completing another Reigate 10K for us in September of the same year, which led to the creation of ‘The Running Biker’.
With help from the brilliant Doble Motorcycles in Coulsdon, Dave ran the Kingston Half Marathon just a month later wearing over 15 pounds of kit, including a helmet…
…and once again broke the men’s Guinness World Record for ‘fastest half-marathon dressed as a motorcyclist’.
In July last year, Dave and his family moved up to Scotland which is where Kirsten’s family live, and together with their much loved sprocker spaniel Bella, they enjoy a wonderfully active life.
They love the area as it has a strong feeling of community, and naturally Dave is already working on his latest challenge: he’s currently a white belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!
When I asked him what’s next on his fundraising list, he said “Future plans will certainly include some more runs; got my eye on a couple more world records (fancy dress of course) ‘Fastest marathon as a dragon’ and ‘Fastest marathon as a mummy’.”
Honestly, we’d expect nothing less! Now that Dave’s an official member of Team All Stars, there’s bound to be plenty more spectacular stories coming up about his fundraising adventures.
You can see more of Dave’s work for us
in this tribute video I made for him:
Thank you so much Dave, from everyone at Autism All Stars.
We’re very much looking forward to more of your
incredible achievements in the years to come.