Hundreds of people across Wales are getting behind a man living with motor neuron disease by running, walking, cycling, rowing and swimming in January.
Now, dad-of-two Mark Williams, who was diagnosed with MND 18 months ago after he began experiencing slurred speech and muscle twitching, has issued a call to arms to get even more people in Wales to help him fundraise for a cure.
Since his diagnosis, the 39-year-old from Abertillery has been praised as a beacon of light for others as he refuses to be defined by the limitations and difficulties of the disease: he continues to go to the gym and completed Pen-y-Fan in defiance of his doctors.
Having already raised thousands for MND charities, he’s rallying people from across Wales to take part in Doddie Aid — the five-week virtual mass-participation event which is the biggest fundraiser for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. Since it started in 2020, the event has raised more than £4 million for MND research thanks to more than 80,000 participants covering four million miles.
Mark, who has been supported every step of the way in his journey by his wife Stephanie, and their two children, Niamh, age four, and Archie, age eight, said: “We’ve been banging the drum about Doddie Aid, and more than 300 people are already signed up for our league, but i want to get to 1,000.
“It’s a great way to kickstart January, with all money raised going towards critical MND research. My Name’5 Doddie Foundation is a charity very close to our hearts and everyone in the MND community. It’s raised millions overt the last few years so it’s fantastic to be part of it.
“Download the app, join the Defiance Army, get active and start logging your miles. Keep sharing it and nominate others to get involved, get active and take part. “It all makes a massive difference. It could be anything — from dancing to taking the kids to school. Everyone feels rubbish at the start of January so it’s a great way to do something good and feel great.“
Last year, Mark came out on top of the league, logging an incredible 700 miles.
Scott Quinnell, the British and Irish Lion and captain of Team Wales for Doddie Aid, has described Mark as an inspiration. He said: “Doddie Weir did so much for the MND community, using his profile and personality to raise millions for vital research. It’s now up to us to finish what he started and fundraise so we can find a cure and end MND.
“Mark is one of those who has picked up the baton. What he’s done already has been absolutely incredible and he is an inspiration. Everybody from Wales needs to get behind him and show their support by getting active and logging their miles in January.“
For more information on Doddie Aid 2024, and to find out how to get involved, visit doddieaid.com.