Mal has a point in his comments about charity. There's no doubt that a lot of people who signed to sponsor, in the great north run, the father of a recently deceased colleague (she was only in her 20's) did not really worry too much about the cause they were contributing to. Sending sick children to Lourdes sounds like a good cause and I think Mal's comments debunk that cause suitably. But is it still worth contributing to the cause, even if it does seem a futile activity?
At the time the sponsorship form came around, I looked at it, briefly, as a cynical attempt from the family to cash in on our sympathies as work-colleagues, still unable to understand how a pleasant, healthy person could be so suddenly taken from us. I say I looked at it briefly that way because I quickly realised that that opinion was more an example of my own cynicism than that of her family. Of course her family would ask for our support, we were her work colleagues - perhaps we need some outlet to express our loss of a work colleague, and giving a few quid to charity is not a bad way to do it. As a word, charity comes with connotations of people shaking tins or doing "outstanding good work", but perhaps it's more than that. As humans, we are both selfish animals and beings with a soul and a need to feel good. Doing something for someone else for its own sake can create a great sense of goodwill.
So, let's look again at this great north run sponsorship. In his grief, our colleague's father decided he was going to do something constructive. He was going to run the great north run (no easy feat) and raise money for charity. This is a simple case of him doing something positive and good in the face of a great loss. I applaud him. For those people who signed his sponsorship form, there was the chance to join in with his good work, albeit in a very easy way (sign here, pay later). For the eventual recipients of this pot of sponsorship money, there will be the sentiment of many people offering goodwill. While a trip to Lourdes may not, in itself, bring them anything other than a whiff of French cheese, the fact that they're going on a journey with the goodwill of so many people behind them will surely make them feel a little better.
Alton Towers would probably just as good too. Unless they have unstable back injuries.