Schoolboys run half marathon for Motor Neurone Disease Association inspired by Rob Burrow
Two teenagers are taking on a half marathon to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association after being inspired by Leeds Rhino's legend Rob Burrow.
Burrow, who won eight Super League titles with Leeds Rhinos before retiring in 2017, revealed he had been diagnosed with MND in December 2019.
Since then, the 37-year-old has led several charity initiatives raising money for MND research, and appeared in BBC Two documentary Rob Burrow: My Year with MND.
It was the documentary which inspired Preston Meloy, 12 and Ben Pearce, 14, to get involved and do something to help.
Preston's mum Amie Meloy, 39, from Whitehaven, said: "They both play rugby league and rugby union, and train as part of the same team.
"Rob Burrow's programme had been on telly and both boys, although they wouldn't want to admit it being their age, are big softies.
"I think they were both quite moved to see how a fellow rugby player, who is so strong and somebody that they've looked up to, go through what he has gone through and the impact it's had on his life.
"Ben particular is a real superfan of Rob's. It really got to them."
The friends decided they wanted to do something to raise money and awareness for MND but were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
As restrictions eased this spring, the pair, who play for Hensingham RLFC and St Benedicts RUFC, started a training programme and set of date of Saturday, June 12.
For Ben, who is a Leeds Rhinos fan, and Preston, a Wigan Warriors supporter, this is their first big experience of long distance running.
Mrs Meloy: "I think the most of the two boys have done is around the 5k mark.
"They literally did start start from scratch in terms of distance running
"Every week they've like really dug in and added a bit more."
The schoolboys have raised more than £2,500 so far and hope to raise even more for the charity.
Mrs Meloy said the support from the local community has been huge, with people from all over, and supporting a wide range of teams, wanting to help raise awareness and support fundraising to aid research into MND.
She said: "I think that what's lovely is Ben is a Leeds supporter of Preston's Wigan supporter, and the two of them have just thought that it's time for the rugby community to come together.
"Regardless of what team they support, it's all for a fellow rugby player in need."
If you would like to donate to Ben and Preston's half marathon, which is taking place on Saturday 12, please visit the Just Giving page.