A trio of Wolves’ backroom staff are combining the busy festive football schedule with running 10km – every single day of December – to raise money for Cure Leukaemia.
The Premier League club’s Head of Medical Phil Hayward, Sports Therapist Danny Fishwick and Performance Analyst Mat Pearson will be put through their paces during the festive period, joined also by Wolves fan David Taylor, a friend of Phil’s.
The demanding December effort from Wolves comes hot on the running heels of a similar challenge carried out during November, led by Rotherham United’s Performance Manager Ross Burbeary.
The Wolves’ trio’s challenge follow some magnificent support from fans for Cure Leukaemia which raised approximately £150,000 following the diagnosis of former Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme with leukaemia in 2017, and they have set themselves - in keeping with the 10k theme - a target of £10,000 to raise from the mammoth 310km month!
There is also a further link between Cure Leukaemia and Wolves as one of the charity’s patrons Geoff Thomas, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2003, spent four years as a player at Molineux in the mid 1990s.
Phil said: “The idea came from seeing the great work the Rotherham lads had done with their challenge for Prostate Cancer.
“We were chatting one day and thought, ‘why don’t we do something similar?’ and try and complete a 10km run every day during the month of December.
“It is going to be a challenge, especially with all the fixtures in December and us wanting to fit in family commitments during the limited time off over Christmas, but our wives and girlfriends have been fantastic and have really got behind us and supported the cause.
“Cure Leukaemia seemed an obvious charity for us to support, particularly on the back of the fantastic efforts of the Wolves fans following Carl’s diagnosis two-and-a-half years ago.
“They are a charity which has helped so many people from the local area who have been diagnosed with leukaemia, and are now preparing to go national next year and support so many more patients from across the country.
“We have already received some great support, and the players have also been chipping in, so as well as hoping for donations we will also have some fantastic Wolves-related items which we will be auctioning and raffling during the month.”
The logistical challenges involve fitting the runs into what is a hectic daily schedule at football clubs at this time of year, and, for one or two has meant 10km in Brighton the one day, and Marbella – during this week’s Wolves training camp – the next!
“We all try to keep fairly fit, and so have set ourselves the challenge of not dipping over 10 per cent of what is our personal best for a 10km on any of the days, so to be honest it is no jog in the park!” added Phil.
“It is tough, especially getting up early in the morning or going later on at night, especially a few days in when you are getting tired and the weather isn’t the best!
“But the way I see it, even if we are struggling a bit it is absolutely nothing in comparison to what Carl went through, and so many other patients have to go through every single day when they are being treated for cancer.
“And we are all supporting each other and pushing each other on, even on the days when we are running separately.
“With GPS, we can track our distance and upload it to our social media and also our WhatsApp running group which means we can keep an eye on each other’s progress and also motivate each other when needed, along with the occasional bit of banter!
“We’re hoping to raise £10,000 – a fairly lofty target but we wanted to aim high!
“It also fits nicely in with the distance we are covering, 10k for 10k, running 10km every day throughout the month.”
Wolves have a total of eight fixtures for the trio to work around during December, including against Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool, and a Europa League visit from Turkish side Besiktas.
The challenge comes at a time when Cure Leukaemia is moving from a regional charity to becoming a national organisation.
From January 2020, the charity will begin investing £3million over a three-year period to fund clinical positions at 12 blood cancer centres across the UK to form the Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) network.
These positions will connect pioneering treatments for blood cancer with patients from a catchment area of 20 million through clinical trials.
England manager Gareth Southgate was among guests at a recent event held at Lord’s Cricket Ground to mark the transformational national partnership between Cure Leukaemia and Deutsche Bank over the last two years, a relationship which has allowed the charity to progress towards helping more patients from across the country.
“We have always been so fortunate to have some amazing support from the Wolves community, in particular since Carl’s diagnosis, and it is great to see him so fit and well now and getting back into normal life,” said James McLaughlin, CEO of Cure Leukaemia.
“This is another example of those connected with such a great club going above and beyond to support Cure Leukaemia, with a really innovative challenge which will push the guys to the limits both for the physical challenge and the organisation.
“The staff at Wolves already have to make plenty of sacrifices around this time of year with the number of fixtures, so to add this to their schedule to help patients from the local area and across the country is a fantastic gesture and we all wish Phil and the team all the very best for the challenge.”
*Click HERE to make a donation to this fantastic effort from the Wolves backroom team, and follow @WolvesSportsMed on Twitter for updates on their progress and details of the raffles and auctions to win unique Wolves items.
How funds raised for Cure Leukaemia help save lives