The rugby league family cares! That’s the message from Tim Jones as he comes towards the end of a sponsored run for former teammate Shane Whitaker.
Shane was a club stalwart and local legend at Lindley Swifts for 25 years. In 2018 he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), the same condition which struck former Leeds Rhinos ace Rob Burrow.
Rob’s former teammate Kevin Sinfield ran seven marathons in seven days last year to raise more than £2 million for Motor Neurone Disease Research.
Taking inspiration from Sinfield, dad-of-four Tim pulled on his running shoes on January 1 aiming to run 182 miles to raise £500 to be shared between Shane, Rob and the MND charity.
RL coach Tim, 46, of Almondbury, said: “My body has taken a bit of punishment from playing rugby league so marathons are a bit beyond me these days but I wanted to do something to help.
“I came up with the idea at Christmas and it seemed apt to start on January 1. I’ve run every day for 42 days – about four miles a day – and I’ve now passed my 182-mile target.
“I’m all about creating sub-goals so I’ve moved the goalposts and now I want to reach 200 miles.”
Tim’s also beaten his fundraising target and he’s topped £600. He now wants £700 before he’s finished.
Tim is helped along the way by son Brad, 15, who also fits in running with his GCSEs.
Tim and Shane played at Lindley Swifts in the mid-1990s and have remained friends. Shane is in a wheelchair and speaks with a voice device.
Shane had done just about every job at the Swifts in 25 years from coaching the juniors to cleaning the kit, marking out pitches to grappling with the administration.
“Shane was a warrior on the pitch and would give his all for his teammates,” said Tim. “We haven’t played together for a long, long time but once a teammate, always a teammate.
“There’s not as much money in rugby league as there is in football or cricket but whenever anyone is in need, everyone mucks in. That’s what Kevin Sinfield did for his best mate.
“Rugby league is a family and if the situation was different Shane would be one of the first up there to help.”
Two years ago the RL family came to Shane’s aid and raised £5,000 to adapt the downstairs of his family home.
Tim, who coaches at Huddersfield New College and the University of Huddersfield, has run through snow, ice and rain and admits to a few aches and pains now. He reckons he’ll finish his run by Thursday.