Emotional moment MND-stricken Rugby League ace Rob Burrow completes race with his children on Father’s Day
- The Rugby League legend was accompanied across the line by his wife and kids
- It comes after he was carried by friend Kevin Sinfield in the Leeds Marathon
There were emotional scenes at the Leeds 10K today as Rob Burrow and his family crossed the finish line together on Father’s Day.
The former Rugby League player, who has become a campaigner for motor neurone disease (MND) awareness after his diagnosis with the condition in late 2019, was cheered over the line by crowds in the city this morning.
The 40-year-old was joined by his wife Lindsey, his daughters Macy and Maya, and his son Jackson, as they set off on the Mini and Junior run after the main 10K began.
The family crossed the line at around 10am and were later seen celebrating with their medals after crossing the finish line.
Lindsey called it ‘really special’ to be able to run the event in the city where Burrow spent his entire 16-year career with Leeds Rhinos and that it was ‘fitting’ the race was on Father’s Day.
Rob Burrow, pictured here with his children Macey (left), Jackson (second left) and Maya (centre) and his wife Lindsey at the Leeds 10K today
The Rugby League legend was pushed around the Mini and Junior course by his daughters this morning
‘He’s such a family man so to be here today with the children, for us it’s just about making special memories,’ she told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
‘I’m incredibly proud of Rob. The courage and resilience he has shown to go out and do that. It takes a special type of person.’
READ MORE HERE: Rugby league star Rob Burrow says Leeds Marathon in his honour was ‘best day’ of his life
Last month Kevin Sinfield pushed Burrow at the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon and carried his former Rhinos team-mate over the finish line to complete the course together.
The inaugural event, which was named the Rob Burrow Marathon in his honour and saw it raise money for MND charities, saw Sinfield push his friend around the 26.2-mile course in a specially-adapted chair.
It was the first Leeds marathon in 20 years and saw 12,500 runners power through the city’s streets on May 14, this year.
Burrow, who said that the marathon held in his honour was ‘one of the best days’ of his life, told how Sinfield, who has raised £8 million since his ex-teammate was diagnosed with the condition in 2019, said: ‘You’re not going to beat me, Rob, we are finishing together.’
The 42-year-old completed his Ultra 7 in 7 Challenge in November when he ran seven back-to-back ultra-marathons, running around 40 miles each day.
Father-of-three Burrow told the Sun: ‘It felt fantastic to be part of a team again with my mate Kevin as our captain.
After finishing the race in front of cheering crowds the family celebrated with their medals
Rob in his specially-designed wheelchair being pushed by his daughters Maya (left) and Macy (right) during today’s race
Rob smiles as his daughters celebrate with their finishing medals after the Mini and Junior race
Last month Rob was carried over the finish line of the Leeds Marathon by his former teammate and best friend Kevin Sinfield
Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield during the 2023 Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon, which started and finished at Headingley Stadium
‘Kevin joked that he didn’t want me to beat him by crossing the line (in my chair) first. I think he knew I had a cunning plan to claim that I finished before him.
‘I want him to know that I have a plan to beat him next year.’
The pair were supported by Rob’s wife, Lindsey, who raised more than £10,000 for the event alone.
READ MORE HERE: MND hero Rob Burrow reveals the tender words his teammate whispered into his ear as he carried him over marathon finish line
He added that she ‘smashed it’, saying: ‘The amount raised in her name is testimony to her. I’m one proud husband’.
Earlier this month an ITV documentary showed heartbreaking images of Burrow, who was capped 15 times for England, being carried around his house and fed by wife Lindsey.
The former scrum-half and hooker now weighs just seven-stone, is non-verbal and can only eat liquidised food spoon fed to him by his wife – as she refuses help from carers and insists ‘he would do the same for me’.
He is also required to sleep downstairs and some nights requires a ventilator to decrease high levels of carbon dioxide in his body.
But his determined wife refuses assistance from carers and equipment, instead carrying him around their home and from his wheelchair to the car.
Speaking ahead of new ITV documentary Lindsey and Rob: Living with MND, which aired on June 8, she vowed to continue looking after her beloved husband ‘while I’m physically able’, adding: ‘ I know he’d do the same for me’.
Lindsey told The Mirror: ‘We haven’t really discussed the option of carers. We don’t want stairlifts, hoists and things, for me it can become quite clinical.
You just want to do what you can, while you can, for as long as you can. He’s my husband, I want to care for him. You say those vows, in sickness and in health, that’s what you want to do.
‘He’ll often say: ‘Thank you for looking after me, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you doing these things.’ I know how grateful he is.
‘It’s not easy being a carer, but when I look at what Rob has had taken from him I’ve nothing to moan about.’
Burrow, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2019, now weighs just seven-stone, is non-verbal and can only eat liquidised food spoon fed to him by his wife
The 40-year-old, a father-of-three, is also required to sleep downstairs and some nights requires a ventilator
The couple have been married for 17 years and first met when the former rugby league star was a ‘shy’ 15-year-old.
But their relationship changed forever following Rob’s diagnosis four years ago.
Burrow spent his entire career at Leeds and made 492 appearances and also won 15 caps for England and five for Great Britain. He retired after winning his eighth Super League Grand Final in 2017 and subsequently became the club’s reserve team head coach.
He revealed the MND diagnosis in an emotional statement in December 2019.
Lindsey continues to work as an NHS physiotherapist once a week, a day during which Rob’s parents take on his care, and spends the rest of the time looking after their three children at their home in Castleford, West Yorkshire.
Rob was given two years to live following the diagnosis and now has no voluntary movement control aside from his eyes, which he uses to spell messages on a screen and tell his wife ‘he couldn’t be more proud’.
But Lindsey admits: ‘I don’t think he can really get any worse.’
She also opened up about asking her husband questions around his funeral wishes, with Rob telling her she is ‘still young’ and ‘should find someone else’.
Motor Neurone Disease (ALS): No known cure and half of sufferers live just three years after diagnosis
There is no cure for MND and the disease is fatal, however the disease progresses at different speeds in patients.
People with MND are expected to live two to five years after the symptoms first manifest, although 10 per cent of sufferers live at least 10 years.
The NHS describes motor neurone disease (MND) as: ‘An uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves. It causes weakness that gets worse over time.’
The weakness is caused by the deterioration of motor neurons, upper motor neurons that travel from the brain down the spinal cord, and lower motor neurons that spread out to the face, throat and limbs.
It was first discovered in 1865 by a French neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot, hence why MND is sometimes known as Charcot’s disease.
In the UK, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is referred to as Motor Neurone Disease, while in the US, ALS is referred to as a specific subset of MND, which is defined as a group of neurological disorders.
However, according to Oxford University Hospitals: ‘Nearly 90 per cent of patients with MND have the mixed ALS form of the disease, so that the terms MND and ALS are commonly used to mean the same thing.’
Weakness in the ankle or leg, which may manifest itself with trips or difficulty ascending stairs, and a weakness in the ability to grip things.
Slurred speech is an early symptom and may later worsen to include difficulty swallowing food.
Muscle cramps or twitches are also a symptom, as is weight loss due to leg and arm muscles growing thinner over time.
MND is difficult to diagnose in its early stages because several conditions may cause similar symptoms. There is also no one test used to ascertain its presence.
However, the disease is usually diagnosed through a process of exclusion, whereby diseases that manifest similar symptoms to ALS are excluded.
The NHS says that MND is an ‘uncommon condition’ that predominantly affects older people. However, it caveats that it can affect adults of any age.
The NHS says that, as of yet, ‘it is not yet known why’ the disease happens. The ALS Association says that MND occurs throughout the world ‘with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries and can affect anyone’.
It says that war veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS and that men are 20 per cent more likely to get it.
Lou Gehrig was one of baseball’s preeminent stars while playing for the Yankees between 1923 and 1939. Known as ‘The Iron Horse,’ he played in 2,130 consecutive games before ALS forced him to retire. The record was broken by Cal Ripken Jr. in 1995
Lou Gehrig’s Disease
As well as being known as ALS and Charcot’s disease, MND is frequently referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Lou Gehrig was a hugely popular baseball player, who played for the New York Yankees between 1923 and 1939.
He was famous for his strength and was nicknamed ‘The Iron Horse’.
His strength, popularity and fame transcended the sport of baseball and the condition adopted the name of the sportsman.
He died two years after his diagnosis.
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