Sunday, 21 April 2024
Sunday, 21 April 2024

Cumbria Dad masterminds his own triathlon charity fundraiser to raise £50,000

A man from Crooklands, Cumbria, organised a gruelling triathlon in the Lake District to fundraise for Muscular Dystrophy UK, a charity that supports people living with muscle-wasting conditions, like his son, Will.

Sam Taylor, 44, spent the past 18 months putting together every element of the fundraising challenge (Thursday 31 August – Saturday 2 September) which was the distance of a typical Ironman challenge.

More than 40 people­, ­including 20 solo participants and 10 teams, from across the UK took part, which Sam named ‘Iron Will’, after his son.

Will, now 14, was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in June 2014, aged four. It is a progressive and life-limiting condition which means Will’s muscles are weakening over time, affecting both his mobility and other vital muscles in his body.

Dad of three, Sam, said:

“This is our way of fighting back against Will’s condition, to do something that might make a positive difference for him, and for other children and families living with muscular dystrophy.”

The past year has been particularly tough for Will and the Taylor family. As Sam highlights:

“Will broke his leg in December, the third time in the past four years. We’d always got him back to walking and riding his bike, but after this last fall, he’s not been able to walk unaided and is having to use either his frame or a wheelchair. It’s been a big adjustment for us all.

“I spend a lot of time thinking about what I can do, how I can do it, and how to get more people involved with our fundraising mission that we call ‘where there’s a Will there’s a way’. The bonus of creating these events has been meeting incredible people and giving Will amazing experiences with them. Will is the life and soul of the event and he gets a huge buzz from riding around in the support vehicle and being at the centre of the action.”

The name ‘Iron Will’ is fitting because the triathlon distances are the equivalent of those in a typical Ironman event. Participants took part in a 2.4-mile open water swim at Capernwray Diving Centre on Thursday (31 August), a 112-mile bike ride around the Lake District on Friday (1 September) and a 26.2-mile run on a loop between Ambleside and Hawkshead on Saturday (2 September).

Over the years, Sam and his family and wider network have raised over £200,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK by undertaking triathlons, marathons and other gruelling physical challenges, including cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End in 2015. In 2017, they rode, swam and ran the Coast to Coast Triathlon, east to west across the UK, and in 2019, they created the ‘Longest, Steepest, Highest Quadrathlon’.

Sam conceptualised, coordinated and cycled the Duchenne Research Relay in 2021, which saw Sam and 18 others cycle 380 miles across three days from London to Newcastle, visiting four neuromuscular research centres.

Sam and his wife Sue, both completed the full event. Sam said:

“I had genuine concerns, all the way through the Iron Will, that we had created something that was just too difficult. But through the teamwork and support of everyone involved, we got every participant and team to the finish line safely.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have an amazing group of friends, who are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones and take on something that is really challenging to help us out. Creating the Iron Will has given us a platform to raise awareness of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and of the groundbreaking research that is happening right here in the UK to find effective treatments, as well as funding this research. For me personally, it feels great to be ‘fighting back’ against Duchenne muscular dystrophy on Will’s behalf by creating these events and training to complete them. Thank you to everyone who sent messages of support, and to those who donated in support of the Iron Will Challenge.”

The Taylor family want to raise awareness of muscular dystrophy and bring a focus to research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy. All the funds raised will go directly to the Muscular Dystrophy UK Duchenne Breakthrough Research Fund.

It’s not too late to donate through their online fundraising page:

Susanne Driffield, Regional Development Manager for North of England & East Midlands, at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:

“Sam and his family and friends have really put their everything into fundraising. Their efforts will go a long way in helping to further research – and hopefully one day finding a cure – for conditions like Duchenne muscular dystrophy. A huge thanks to Sam and co for organising it and raising such an incredible amount of money.”

Interested in taking on a challenge for Muscular Dystrophy UK why not sign up today? For more information or to help support their work, please visit: or call our free helpline on 0800 652 6352 (open Mon-Thurs 10am-2pm).


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