KEVIN Sinfield is a hero after raising almost £2.5 million for people living with motor neurone disease – now to get the Government to hold up its pledge.
And football legend Paul Scholes boosted the awareness of what he has done by simply saying ‘Yes’ when they met at an Italian restaurant.
The rugby league legend ran the last two stages of his Ultra 7 in 7 in the name of pal and former team-mate Rob Burrow with an Achilles problem as he completed a journey from Murrayfield to Old Trafford.
But after smashing his fundraising target of £777,777 once again, making it about £7.5 million raised over three challenges, he wants the £50 million Downing Street promised to fund research into the condition to come through.
He also spelled out where that money – announced by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson – will not cover.
Sinfield said: “This is a community that’s been lost and left for so long.
“I understand there’s an element of red tape and bureaucracy but I look at some of the other ways the Government has spent money over the last couple of years and I don’t think it’s been scrutinised like this is.
“That’s the bit I don’t understand, that’s the bit that disappoints me because people are dying, people are being diagnosed across the UK and families are being ravaged and left. That isn’t right.
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“The £50 million is for research. There’s nothing that helps families or gives advice. There’s nothing that gives people communication devices to speak to their families.
“There’s nothing to make house adjustments. There’s nothing there to make sure families are supported properly through counselling and emotional support.
“Last Thursday was a big day and I woke up on the Friday with a fair bit of swelling around my lower limbs. I was patched up and I’ll be fine. We got an opportunity to provide hope. MND isn’t incurable, it’s just been underfunded.”
Sinfield had a number of famous running mates during his 275-mile journey, including Steve Cram, Alistair Brownlee, Gemma Bonner and Scholes, who joined him on the last leg.
And the current defence coach at Leicester Tigers RU, told how the Manchester United icon got involved, adding: “Paul’s a special guy. I’ve asked him to support the challenges and he’s just said, ‘Yes.’
“I bumped into him as we came out of an Italian restaurant and he said, ‘You’re doing that crazy challenge, aren’t you?’
“I said, ‘If you fancy running for a bit, we’d love to have you.’ He just went, ‘Yep, let me know where you want me, I’ll be there.’ He was absolutely brilliant.”
Sinfield became an unlikely TV star by stopping to urinate just as live BBC cameras cut to him. Although he says, ‘If there had been one on for seven days, you’d have seen a lot more. Thankfully it wasn’t a Paula Radcliffe moment.’
But after three mammoth challenges – seven marathons in seven days, a 101-mile continuous run and now seven ultra marathons – he could be forgiven for thinking, ‘That’s it.’
Yet others could come, just not running ones as he said: “When I addressed the group before we set off, I said, ‘This would probably be the last run.’
“I did caveat that, though, by saying Rocky IV is my favourite Rocky. On Sunday, I thought about it but I’m not sure another big run is where we should go.
“I have ideas. I feel I’ve another couple of challenges in me.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We remain committed to spending at least another £50 million to help find a cure to this awful illness.”