by Rebecca Hannant
A Sproatley man is undertaking a challenge to cycle 600km – the distance between Hull KR’s Craven Park Stadium to Wembley Stadium and back – in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Liam Foster, 33, was inspired to do the challenge by rugby league legend Rob Burrow and local man Craig Eskrett, who are both living with the disease.
In May 2023, Liam had an unexpected encounter with Rob Burrow and his family on a day out. Speaking to the Burrows, Liam learned of the struggles they were facing but was inspired by their tenacity and courage.
Liam said: “As I drove back home that day, I knew I had to take on a fundraising challenge to help support families living with this disease.”
In January 2023, Liam completed a marathon-a-week challenge raising money for the Sands baby loss charity.
Liam added: “My last challenge was really well received by friends, family and the local community, so I wanted to emulate this success for the MND Association. Just like last year, the raising of awareness and starting conversations is just as valuable to the charity as donations.”
Liam’s decision to raise money for the MND Association was cemented when he discovered that Craig, his former teammate and college friend, had recently been diagnosed with the disease.
Liam added: “Craig was a great character at college, a really funny lad and was always a pleasure to be around. Despite the sadness of the situation, it has been brilliant reconnecting with Craig and I’m looking forward to doing all I can to support him and other families.”
Throughout January, Liam will be using his gym as the main hub for racking up the mileage.
Liam added: “I’m not great on a bike, and I’ll be completing most of this on an evening, so I thought it would be best for everyone that I completed this indoors at this time of year.”
After completing a 50km cycle on Saturday afternoon, Liam has now reached the halfway mark of his challenge.
He now has two weeks to complete the final 300km.
He added: “It’s physically challenging, my legs don’t really catch a break as I’m cycling most nights in the week, but I am so motivated by people’s messages and donations that I am determined to reach the finish line.”
Liam and Craig are planning to cycle the penultimate date of the challenge together.
Craig said: “The support has been well and truly overwhelming, and I honestly can’t thank everyone enough. When I was diagnosed, I really wanted to raise as much awareness as possible and I never thought it would reach the levels it has.
“The continuous support from family and friends helps me stay positive and motivated
to keep raising awareness to find that cure – banging the drum, as we all say. There’s a lot of amazing people out there and they all deserve a lot of credit for what they are doing.”
Liam added: “I will be completing the final day of my challenge on the roads, finishing at Hull KR’s stadium. By then, I’ll be really looking forward to getting outdoors and following the final route of the journey.”
Liam hopes to tie this in conjunction with Hull KR’s fixture against Sheffield Eagles on Sunday, January 28.
Liam said: “The rugby league community have all been touched by Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield’s fundraising efforts for the MND Association. Craig is a massive Hull KR fan and the club played at Wembley last summer too, so it made sense for me to tie my challenge in with the local side.”
The MND Association is the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland focused on improving access to care, research and campaigning for those people living with or affected by MND.
MND is a fatal, rapidly progressing disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It attacks the nerves that control movement and eventually leaves people unable to move, communicate or breathe. It kills a third of people within a year of diagnosis and half within two years. There is no cure.
To follow and support Liam’s challenge, visit justgiving.com/page/to-wembley-and-back.