Sporty Edinburgh schoolgirl is running 5k every day for 25 DAYS up to Christmas in aid of city's homeless

Mackenzie Di Nella is running 125 kilometres between December 1st and Christmas Day.

Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 9:20 am

For most people advent is marked with a piece of Santa shaped chocolate, but a Firrhill schoolgirl is checking off every day till Christmas with a 5k run to raise cash for the city’s homeless.

Third year pupil Mackenzie Di Nella is running 125k over 25 days to collect money for local homeless charity Fresh Start.

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Mackenzie Di Nella is running 125 kilometres between December 1st and Christmas Day.

The sporty schoolgirl, who has now completed 10 of her 25 runs, was motivated to take on this challenge after she first became aware of the scale of homelessness is in the city.

'Upset' by scale of Edinburgh's homelessness

Mackenzie - who is called Mack by friends - grew up in Archi, a rural village in the South of Italy but moved to Liberton in 2018 with her Portobello-raised mum Denise Muir, and Italian father Antonio Di Nella.

This was when the 14-year-old first saw homeless people living on the streets which really “upset” and “shocked” her.

She said: “When we were in Italy we lived in a really small village and everyone was okay and had a home and then we moved to Edinburgh and I started to see people living on the street.

“When I first came to the city and walked along Princes Street I saw dozens of people on the streets and because I had never seen it before I was really shocked.”

The aspiring human rights lawyer said that she knew she wanted to help but didn’t quite know how to go about it.

She said: “I could see that homelessness is a big issue in Edinburgh and I wanted to do something to make people having to live on the streets life a little better but it was really difficult to know what to do.

“When I am walking through town and saw a homeless person I just kind of walk past and tried not to look which made me feel terrible.

“But I just wasn’t sure if I should smile and say hello in case they thought I was laughing at them so I thought if I raised money for a charity helping them that would be more helpful.”

The athletic teenager decided to use her talents for sports to raise as much money as she could in time for Christmas to help the homeless have a “better start to the new year.”

15 runs left to go

Since December 1 she has been getting up each day at 5.45am to run for 30 minutes before donning her school tie and catching the bus.

Mackenzie has 15 runs left to go and says that she is “quite enjoying the challenge.”

She said: “I have to dress up warm and sometimes it can be tough in the dark running into the wind but it’s a really good feeling once you have finished.

“I thought I’d be tired but I feel very awake by the time I get to school.”

Mackenzie has already surpassed her target of £200 which she says was a “great feeling.”

She added: “I set up the fundraising page before I started the runs and in the first day I had already raised £70.”

The teen will be joined my mum and dad for her final run on Christmas morning before the trio enjoys a well-deserved relaxing Christmas.

She said: “My mum has come on every run with me and Dad’s come on two when he’s not been working.

“I’m looking forward to completing the fundraising but will quite miss the challenge each day, I might have to do another one in the new year.”

Mum Denise, 50, said she is “immensely proud” of her daughter’s marathon fundraising efforts - and even joins her on some of the early morning runs.

She added: “I am doing my best to support her by accompanying her on runs, helping find donations, and being generally supportive.

“I think the biggest thing for me as her mum as the fact that she’s thinking about normal teenage things to do at Christmas and also about the people who might not be doing them. I am immensely proud.”

Visit here to help Mackenzie’s fundraising effort: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/5k-a-day-forxmas