Football rallies for 178-mile walk to Anfield for ex-Red’s charity – Klopp & Trent show support

Arriving at Anfield, hundreds of walkers completed a 178-mile journey for the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation, with Jurgen Klopp and Trent Alexander-Arnold showing their support.

Ex-Liverpool player Stephen Derby is just 35 years old but has been living with motor neurone disease since 2018, when he was forced into early retirement.

In his foundation’s latest fundraising efforts, Darby partnered with fellow MND-diagnosed ex-player Marcus Stewart to organise March of the Day – a 178-mile walk from Bradford’s Valley Parade stadium to Anfield.

The trek, which took three days, garnered support from several famous faces, including Jurgen Klopp and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The Liverpool manager sent a message saying: “[It’s] great to see the football community standing strong with Stephen Darby, Marcus Stewart and [the] MND family.

“One hundred and seventy-eight miles is a real challenge [and] it’s great to show Stephen and Marcus that they will never walk alone.”

Meanwhile, Alexander-Arnold commented: “It’s amazing to see the football community come together to tackle such an issue and a disease, so amazing work guys.”

On the group’s route, they took in over 17 football stadia and raised over £130,000 for the foundation that attempts to create awareness of MND, as well as fund and assist research into the illness.

They also raise funds and offer grants to those with MND and create a network to help provide information and emotional support network for those living with the disease.

BRADFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, July 13, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp poses for a photo with Stephen Darby and his wife and Stephanie Houghton (4th from L) during a pre-season friendly match between Bradford City AFC and Liverpool FC at Valley Parade. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
Photo taken on July 13, 2019

On their route, they visited Leeds Rhinos’ Headingley Rugby League stadium, where they met ex-player Rob Burrow, who is another former athlete known for his charitable exploits after being diagnosed at just 37.

His wife, Lindsay Burrow, told the BBC: “It’s brilliant that now the football community are coming together and it just helps to, you know, continue to raise that awareness.”

Darby’s wife, former England Women captain Steph Houghton, added: “Sometimes you think ‘Why us and why [does] it only to happen people like us?’

“But, at the same time, we’re really fortunate that we have such good support network and many families don’t have that when this illness comes to them.”

The MND association states: “With motor neurone disease, known as MND, messages from the motor neurones gradually stop reaching the muscles.

“This leads the muscles to weaken, stiffen and waste, which can affect how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe. Some people also get changes to their thinking and behaviour, but the disease affects everyone differently.”

There is a one in 300 risk of a UK adult getting MND in their lifetime, but Houghton said: “This is a disease that’s well underfunded and we want to try and raise as much money as we can to help people all over the country.”

If you would like to donate to the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation, please click here.