Sinfield signals second seven in seven

KEVIN Sinfield says another seven in seven for pal and former team-mate Rob Burrow as well as other motor neurone disease sufferers is on the way.

But it will not all be based around Saddleworth, there are only so many streets to cover.

The Grasscroft-based Leeds Rhinos rugby league legend raised an astonishing £2.7 million for the MND Association by doing seven marathons in seven days last year.

Now there will be a 2021 version, with a walk on the agenda plus possibly bike rides and maybe even another marathon after being bowled over by the response and the size of the challenge faced by the motor neurone disease community.

Sinfield unveiled how £2.2 million of the cash raised will be used by the charity, including £1.25 million for frontline support services, £655,000 into further research of the condition and £300,000 directly to the team in the north.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 01/12/2020 – Rugby League – Kevin Sinfield 7 in 7 – Saddleworth, Greater Manchester, England – Kevin Sinfield MBE on day 1 of his seven marathons in seven days fundraising challenge in support of his former Leeds Rhinos team-mate Rob Burrow and the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND).

After getting involved following Burrow’s diagnosis in December 2019, his eyes were opened at just how many people in the country are affected by the disease and what they face – and another fundraising effort is on its way.

Sinfield, who completed five marathons around Saddleworth and two in Leeds, said: “There are a couple of challenges on the horizon but we’re hoping there’ll be another seven in seven towards the back end of the year.

“I think there’ll be a different theme than marathon running. I think it’s going to be a walk that covers seven days with a bit of a crazy distance set in there.

“Given the restrictions in place last year and the hoops we had to jump through, there were only six of us that could be involved. We’d like to have an event that’s a bit more inclusive and spread across the country – there are only so many marathons you can run around Saddleworth!

“That group knocked together a few ideas but I’d like to think we can have something that would allow people to get involved in some shape or form.”

Sinfield’s efforts have had a huge knock-on effect. More than 700 people signed up for seven in seven challenges, adding a further £213,647.

Other things like a beer being produced by Manchester’s Seven Brothers brewery,which is part-owned by former rugby league player Nathan McAvoy, with at least £1 if every sale going to the MNDA, have also started.

Sinfield, 40, added: “I’m really proud of the seven in seven legacy which we never expected, that blows you away. I get contacted now by people doing different seven in seven challenges.

“I was on a Zoom call with three guys riding their bikes from Paris to Blackpool for the MNDA.

“It started off with Rob at the forefront of it and even if we’d raised £10, the MNDA would’ve given us the support and been right behind us.

Sinfield embraces Burrow

“Without the support we got from them, we wouldn’t have got anywhere near those funds and awareness.

“It started trying to raise some money for a mate from a few jogs but grew into something much bigger.

“It was so powerful. It also opened my eyes to how big an issue MND is – it’s almost a hidden secret.

“A lot of people who’ve been affected or challenged by MND have almost been ashamed and locked themselves away as they know what a tough battle it is.

“What Rob has been able to do, and Doddie Weir before him, is have a huge impact on people. Other sufferers tell people now, ‘I’ve got what Rob Burrow’s got.’

“It’s made explaining it to people far easier as Rob has broken down so many barriers and had the courage to show what happens with this tragic disease.

“There are so many other stories out there. Hopefully now they’re prepared to share it and there’s a far better awareness of what people are faced with now.”

As well as the huge donation to the MNDA, which means it can put £5.7 million into research this year rather than £3 million, some of Sinfield’s fundraising will benefit Burrow, wife Lindsey and children Macy, Maya and Jackson direct.

Sinfield said: “The vast majority has gone to the MNDA but Rob was at the forefront of it and he’s benefitted from the seven in seven.

“He’s a stubborn, spirited soul and he’s been reluctant to have any real adaptations done as things stand.

“He’s fighting, he’s doing everything he can. He’s a very proud guy and has been so overwhelmed by everybody’s support.

“But we want to provide hope, not just for Rob but for everybody out there.”

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