Each week we talk to one person involved in London City Swim to find out their story, why they are involved and what they hope London City Swim will achieve.This week we meet Kai Balder, whose role in controlling the financial structure of the event meant that last year, every penny of the £130,000 of donations raised by swimmers went to the charities.
Kai is a Dutchman who was born in Arnhem, raised in Utrecht and studied Mechanical Engineering in Delft. He moved into strategy consulting, first in Amsterdam for four years and then in London for the last five years. Kai is married to Eveline, his high school love and they have two children, Hugo (3) and Josephine (1).
All of us have some connection to MND that drives us and Kai’s connection is that his beloved grandfather died of MND back in 2000. Kai had a very strong relationship with him, probably because they shared many interests; as a boy Kai often went fishing with him and they shared a common love for motorcycles – in fact for anything engineering-related.
Between them they tackled many DIY jobs and seeing him gradually lose muscle control (first in his right hand, then arm) was frustrating and upsetting to Kai; as is so often the cruelty with Motor Neurone Disease, it prevented his grandfather from what he liked doing best and no one was able to do anything about it.
One of Kai’s best friends, Diederik den Dekker, is on the board of the Amsterdam City Swim (ACS). When the ACS board thought about launching a London swim, Diederik reached out to Kai and asked whether he would be interested in launching the London City Swim.
The strong motivation Kai had from the experience with his grandfather drove him to assist with the launch of London City Swim and to make it the great success it was.
Kai says that “If I can do something to prevent this situation from happening to other people, I will do it. I have learnt a great deal about what is being done to tackle MND and I am very excited about the progress that has been made recently towards understanding the disease; I hope this brings us closer to finding a cure. Last year I raised GBP 1,680 so I guess that sets the bar for this year. I would like to challenge Sadiq Khan to get into the water and join all Londoners who are swimming to raise funds for MND!”
Kai dedicates his 2018 swim to his grandfather Fokke Chaigneau .
Here is Kai with his grandfather and during LCS17 and at a practice swim in a (very cold) lake in Scotland.