A football fan who is going blind has completed an epic 2,500 mile fundraising mission by walking to all 92 football league stadia in 154 days.
Paul Hodgkinson, 45, of Wrenthorpe, Wakefield, ticked off his last stadia to complete his ‘Walking We Are United’ challenge when he arrived at Liverpool’s Anfield ground last Monday. (Sept 17)
The dad-of one started his marathon effort at Anfield on April 30 and walked an average of 20 miles every day to complete the walk, which he hopes will net around £20,000 for two charities.
Mr Hodgkinson had his left eye removed following an accident when he was only 13 years old and now the sight in his right eye is deteriorating.
The former electrician fears he will lose his sight altogether in the near future and wanted to complete the challenge while he is still able.
Mr Hodgkinson, who arrived at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground in late July, battled through the pain barrier and finished the walk despite losing five stone in weight along the way.
He also parted company with nine toenails and suffered a broken toe and a dislocated knee ligament.
He said: “I have found the walk at times to be both mentally and physically tiring, but the messages of support that I’ve received from well wishers as well as the football clubs around the country has really kept me going.”
Mr Hodgkinson is hoping to raise £20,000 to be shared between the Royal National institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Leukaemia and Lymphoma research.
Kim Taylor, National Community Fundraising Manager at RNIB said; “We are very grateful to Paul for all of his efforts and hard work is getting this fundraising project off the ground. It’s a huge undertaking and we thank him from the bottom of our hearts.”
She added: “He is an inspiration, he really is.”
During the walk, Mr Hodgkinson said: “It’s a lot more work than I expected. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.
“But I’m enjoying it and wouldn’t change it. It is thanks to the RNIB and friends and family that I have managed to turn the corner and I can start to live a different life.”
He also planning an auction of football memorabilia donated by clubs he is visiting, to help him achieve his target.
He has received tickets and signed memorabilia from teams including Liverpool and Barnsley.
To donate to Mr Hodgkinson’s ‘Walking We Are United’ challenge, or for more information, visit www.walkingweareunited.co.uk
Anyone can donate by text by sending WWAu01 plus your amount to 70070, eg: WWAu01 £5.