More than 500 undertake challenge supporting former rugby player with motor neurone disease

More than 500 people took part in a challenge on Saturday to support a former Maidenhead Rugby Club (RFC) player who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) last year.

Players, supporters, and friends came to Maidenhead RFC’s Centenary Charity Event – Smithy’s Day – to support Roger ‘Smithy’ Smith who formerly played for the first team for 15 years from the early 1990s as a number 13.

The aim of the challenge was to run, walk or crawl 13 laps of the athletics track at Braywick to raise awareness and fundraise for the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association and to show support for Roger.

On the day, more than 500 people attended, completing the 13 laps over a 13-hour period.

There was representation from every section of the club, with each age group, from U6 to the senior squad, all attending to take part.

Additionally, many of the older members also took part on the challenge to complete the 13 laps, taking the age range of those participating from under six to 85-years-old.

Roger’s parents, brother, wife Sophie and son Barnaby also took to the track, all completing their 13 laps.

Some members also completed challenges in wheelchairs and on crutches.

Some members and those who played alongside Roger were unable to attend, however additional participation in the challenge included 13 laps being completed by Andy Barron who now resides in Australia, and 13 laps being taken on by past player and captain Richie Craig in the Falklands.

Others including Eric Blewitt from Australia, Greg Andrews from South Africa, Dave Goodman and Kevin Young, both living in Turkey, and Alex Gallina from Spain also all carried out 13 ‘somethings’ to showcase that there was club support from around the globe.

The final lap of the day was taken on by Roger as he was cheered on by more than 100 club members, singing rugby songs.

While the final total is still to be confirmed, more than £15,000 is expected to have been raised on the day for the MND Association.

There will be more opportunities to contribute at a stand, run by members of the rugby club, selling soft drinks at Let’s Rock the Moor this weekend.

All funds will go to the MND Association.

Organiser Allan Green said: “The Smith family were blown away by the community spirit of the club through this event.

“They take away many memories and lots of positivity.

“Maidenhead RFC certainly can look after their own.

“As a club we never lost sight of why we were doing this event and at the same time we had fun, laughter and plenty of emotion.

“Roger told me the day after, he hasn't stopped smiling since. That is priceless.”

The current total of the JustGiving fundraiser stands at more than £16,700. It can be viewed at: www.justgiving.com/team/smithy13

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