Leeds Rhinos legend Kevin Sinfield plans another 7-in-7 challenge for MND - and this time public could join in
Rugby league hero turned fund-raising sensation Kevin Sinfield is planning a new challenge to raise funds for the fight against motor neurone disease (MND) - and this time he hopes to team up with members of the public.
Sinfield, the former Leeds Rhinos captain and now director of rugby, raised £2.2m for the MND Association by running seven marathons in seven days last December, a year after his ex-teammate Rob Burrow was diagnosed with the terminal illness.
Sinfield and the MNDA have now confirmed how that money will be spent, with £1.25m going to frontline support services, £300,000 to the association’s operation in the north and £655,000 being put towards research.
The MNDA have pledged £2m to research on top of the contribution from Sinfield’s fund-raising, which is in addition to £3m already committed this year.
Sinfield’s challenge took place during tight Covid restrictions, limiting him to a six-strong team, but since then, more than 700 other people have signed up for their own seven-in-seven challenges, raising an extra £213.647.
Now the blisters have healed, Sinfield confirmed he is turning his attention to a new effort later this year.
“There are a couple of challenges on the horizon,” Sinfield revealed.
“We are still pulling those together, but we are hoping there will be another seven-in-seven towards the back end of the year.
“We are not quite sure yet and I think Covid will dictate some of it again, but I think it will be a different theme than marathon running.”
Sinfield is keeping details close to his chest, but added: “Without giving too much away, I think it is going to be a walk that covers seven days with a bit of a crazy distance set in there.
“I think that’s where we are heading at the minute; it could end up being a bike ride, we could end up doing marathons again, but at this stage - because of how restricted we were last time - we want to try and open it up to as many people as we can.
“Obviously we want to be Covid secure and will abide by everything that’s in place, but we’d like to think by the back end of the year those bigger types of events will be able to go ahead and we want people to get involved.
“I think with that, it becomes so much more powerful.”
According to MNDA director of external affairs Chris James , approximately 5,000 people in the UK are currently living with the disease, which has no known cure.
Six new sufferers are diagnosed every day and the lifetime risk of contracting the illness is one in 300.
Not only has the seven-in-seven challenge raised funds to fight the disease, but it has also raised awareness of what was a previously little known condition.
Sinfield said: “It started off with Rob at the forefront - trying to raise some money from a few jogs for a mate - and became something much bigger.
“We ended up with a full army of people connected with MND behind us and it was so powerful.”
Burrow and his family were involved in discussions over how the money raised through last year’s challenge will be used.
The former scrum-half won eight Super League titles with Leeds and had recently been appointed reserve team coach when his illness was diagnosed.
Sinfield said: “Some of the things you are worried about in your life and you are concerned with are insignificant when you think of what some other people are having to face.
“If I could fund-raise for a job, I would - just because of the satisfaction I get from it.
“Unfortunately, I am not in that position, but [it has taught him] you have got to make the most of life and the time you’ve got.
“For all of us that have been involved in it, friendships are so important.
“We love Rob to bits and we’d do anything for him.”
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.