THE talented team of footballers are taking on a virtual 200-mile round trip to raise funds for their much-loved coach and Head of Girls Football Development, Emma Fletcher, who watched family members die from a devastating illness called Huntington’s disease. Emma has inherited the Huntington’s gene, meaning that she too will develop the fatal disease.
Each member of the Manchester United Girl’s Regional Talent Club, Under 11 Squad are taking on the challenge of covering 15 miles each over the next two weeks. They will collectively run, cycle or walk the 200 miles, which is the distance between each of their homes. They have set themselves a target of £250 to be raised for the Huntington’s Disease Association and, after one day, have already exceeded this by £1000!
Huntington’s disease is a rare neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system and is caused by a faulty gene passed down through families. Described as having motor neurone disease, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease simultaneously, Huntington’s causes changes in the brain affecting movement, feelings, thinking, eating and speech. There are around 8000 people in the UK with Huntington’s, 282 of them from the Manchester area, and around 32,000 people at risk of developing the disease.
11-year-old Dixie Thirde from Rossendale and member of Manchester United Girl’s Regional Talent Club, Under 11 Squad said:
“Myself and all my teammates wanted to show Emma the same support that she and the rest of the Manchester United Foundation staff have shown all the girls in the Regional Talent Centre, especially during the lockdown period. There’s been a big focus on looking after everybody’s wellbeing, staying connected and giving to others. So, as a team, we wanted to give something back to Emma. We’re all very proud to be a part of the Manchester United family, we’re hoping to spread the news about our charity run as far as possible and want to raise as much money as we can for the Huntington’s Disease Association, especially as a lot of other fundraising opportunities such as the London Marathon were cancelled due to COVID-19. It’s going to be great for the team to get together in small groups and enjoy a socially distanced run with Emma!”
Joanne Dobbie, Head of Fundraising said:
“As a charity, we rely on the generosity of the general public to carry out our work and we are thrilled to see the Manchester United Girl’s Regional Talent Club, Under 11 Squad take on this fantastic challenge to support their coach through her diagnosis of Huntington’s disease. The money raised will help us support thousands of people affected by the disease in England and Wales, especially through this period of uncertainty caused by COVID-19.”
Cath Stanley, Chief Executive said:
“Emma is a fantastic role model to these talented girls and has inspired them to raise valuable funds and awareness for the Huntington’s Disease Association. Emma’s willingness to share her story of the way she is positively dealing with her diagnosis is such an encouraging message for others in her position.”
Huntington’s disease is rare and devastates families. COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on our fundraising efforts and is threatening our ability to help and care for those affected by Huntington’s disease. Fundraisers like this help us provide essential services to people who are affected by Huntington’s, acting as a lifeline in times of need. Please donate today.
To support the girls’ challenge please visit their JustGiving page.