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‘A beacon of hope and inspiration’: the legacy of Rob Burrow

Words by Abi Scaife

Following his four-and-a-half-year battle with motor neurone disease (MND), former Rugby star Rob Burrow has sadly passed away, aged just 41.

Motor neurone disease, or MND, is a rare condition that affects the brain and nerves, causing complications with movement, speech and more. It is a degenerative condition, meaning it gets worse over time, and currently, there is no known cure.

Burrow, who is survived by his wife, Lindsey, and three children, was diagnosed at 37. Since then, he has worked incredibly hard, not only to raise awareness for such a rare disease, but to fundraise for care, and research into MND. 

He was joined by former Leeds Rhinos teammate Kevin Sinfield, who ran seven marathons in seven days to raise £77,777 for Burrow, as well as the MND Association, a charity which supports those living with MND. By the end of those seven days, the amount raised totalled more than £1.2 million.

Since then, he has continued to run marathons and ultramarathons, to help raise much-needed funds and awareness in the name of his friend and teammate, Burrow.

Together, Burrow and Sinfield raised over £6 million for the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease in Leeds, an appeal which began in 2021. 

Burrow’s work raising awareness for MND shows just how much of an impact those in the public eye have. Not only did he teach people about an incredibly rare illness that harms so many individuals, but he also raised funds to help those who are in a less privileged position than he to get the care they need.

At the beginning of 2024, Burrow was promoted from MBE to CBE, in honour of services to the motor neurone disease community, and how he has raised its profile in the public eye.

Burrow’s legacy will remain for years to come, not only because of the awareness that he raised for MND, but because the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease will continue to help those in need.

It is a tragic loss for the world, to say goodbye to such an incredible person so early in his life. As we remember him for the man, the father, and the player that he was, it is also important to remember the good that he is leaving behind and the impact that he has made on all of our lives.

If you wish to make a donation in memory of Rob Burrow, you can do so by donating directly to the care centre at Leeds Hospital, or by donating to the MND Association.

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.   

MND Association. The MND Association is a charity focused on improving access to care, research and campaigning for people affected by motor neurone disease. Support them here.

My Name’5 Doddle Foundation. My Name'5 Doddie Foundation is a charity committed to funding research to find effective treatments to motor neurone disease. Find out more here.

MND Scotland. This charity works to make time count for people living with motor neurone disease (MND) across Scotland. Learn more here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnerships for the Goals.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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