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Even Superheroes need a Sidekick


Owen Marks
Pfizer UK Rare Disease Lead and Diversity and Inclusion Co-Chair

The power of partnership


Owen with Emma Lynn, UK Corporate Affairs Director, bringing some Sidekick sparkle to the 2019 Winter Wonderwheels event.

Barcelona, 1992. It’s the 400m semi-final in the Olympic Games and Team GB’s Derek Redmond – a medal hopeful – is just past the first bend when his hamstring gives out. He falls to the ground. First aiders come to help him off the track but he struggles up and limps on, his leg dragging behind. There’s a commotion and a man appears from the crowd – Redmond’s father. Ignoring suggestions to leave the track, father and son slowly battle their way to the end, arm in arm, finally crossing the finish line to a standing ovation.

It’s a moment in Olympic history that sticks with you. Competition is tough. But without someone in your corner, keeping you going – physically and emotionally – it can be even tougher.

We remember the heroes. But today, I want us to take the time to recognise their Sidekicks. The mentors, coaches, Superfans cheering wildly in the crowd, volunteers handing out water – family and friends who make sacrifices themselves to transform a person into a star.

Superhero Emerson has participated in the Superheroes Tri for the last 4 years, powered by his Sidekick Mum, Anne-Marina.

Right now, there is an event going on which celebrates the best of Superheroes and their Sidekicks. Pfizer is a proud sponsor of the Superhero Series: powered by MARVEL – the UK’s largest mass participation sports event for people of all abilities. Regardless of physical disabilities or mental health challenges, Superheroes welcomes everyone and will find a way to help people overcome the difficulties and succeed.

However, like all major events, this year has seen COVID-induced changes to the schedule. Unable to gather en masse, the organisers have created a month-long At Home Superheroes, where participants can complete sporting challenges in their house, garden or surrounding area. For a daily dose of some truly inspiring individuals doing incredible things, follow Superhero Tri on social media!

But how much of this would be possible without the support team? The parents, siblings, friends, carers and Paralympic mentors who are competing alongside our Superhero participants. This week is Sidekicks Week for At Home Superheroes. Pfizer has been following the stories of some wonderful Sidekick Supporters, people like Mark who takes the energy and enthusiasm of his Superheroes to help them through any challenge - including their decathlon from home this year.

Superhero siblings Ruben and Elena with their dad, Incredible Sidekick Mark. This year, they're taking on an at home decathalon.

At Pfizer, we know all about overcoming health challenges to live the life you want to. We live by our purpose – Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives – and many of the patient communities we are here to serve are taking part in this incredible event.

Last year, I was privileged to see first-hand the power of the Superheroes Series. My volunteering task was to cycle round the course, checking in on the participants. At first, I was deflated not to be there again this summer, but actually the virtual event has perhaps been even more inspiring than the live one. Following on social media, we get to see the personal stories behind the fancy dress. And through the Superheroes’ posts and those of their Sidekicks, we get an even bigger sense of wonder at what they are overcoming, to achieve something special… together.

Right now, we all need our Sidekicks. COVID-19 has brought about major challenges for many households. We need our support crew around us – even if it is, in some cases, virtually.

Sidekick Cirsty and Superhero Harry have taken the Superhero Tri across the channel this year to form the Jersey Ninjas!

So I’m going to take my inspiration from the At Home Superheroes. What it shows is you can achieve the unachievable, rise to the occasion and get through the tough times. But having someone by your side throughout, there when you need a helping hand, makes it all the more achievable and rewarding.

Our positive encouragement, virtual cheers and sincere congratulations go to everyone taking part in this summer’s virtual event – Sidekicks and Heroes alike, you are all Super!



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We passionately believe in using our people and resources to make a positive impact in the communities in which we work; each year, our colleagues are able to take up to five days of volunteering.


Pfizer announces its support of the 2019 Superhero Tri and Winter Wonderwheels mass-participation events, part of the Superhero Series powered by Marvel and founded by Paralympian Sophia Warner.


We're proud to be part of an industry that changes people's lives for the better - but our contribution to UK society goes beyond our medicines, products and vaccines.


PP-PFE-GBR-2736 / June 2020