SPORTS stars and celebrities from across the world have given their backing to our campaign to get inspirational marathon man Ray Matthews knighted.
Ray (75) said he had enjoyed an “amazing” response since completing his mammoth challenge of 75 marathons in 75 days.
Praise and comments have included tweets from former boxing world champions Sugar Ray Leonard and Barry McGuigan.
Ray, of Maltby, said: “It’s not something that I have ever thought was going to happen.
“The accolades are coming in all the time and I just feel so humble that people are getting behind what I’ve done.”
Ray hopes to raise £75,000 in sponsorship and donations to pay for a specialist playground at Newman School - but still needs about £50,000 to reach his target. Since crossing the finish line in the grounds of the Whiston special school last month, he has also appeared in national newspapers and on television.
Ray said: “The key now is to take advantage of this crazy response to draw the money in for Newman School.
“The big one for me is Sunday when I’ll start the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon in York.
“For me, as an athlete, to set off thousands of other athletes is the ultimate accolade.”
Grandad Ray had ITV camera crews at his Maltby home last week filming for the Pride of Britain awards, for which he has been nominated.
But it was the tweet from Sugar Ray Leonard which amazed him the most.
The five-time world champion tweeted him: “Ray you are indeed a special individual that gives back and makes an impact to so many. Continue champ!”
Ray, who started running as part of his boxing training, said: “Barry McGuigan tweeted me and now he is following me, which is fantastic and then I got a tweet from Sugar Ray Leonard, which I was just gobsmacked to see.
“It’s hard to put into context because that guy for me is the best fighter ever.”
Ray - still running every day as part of a “gradual wind down” - has booked a holiday to Lanzarote in November.
But he said: “We’re looking for a bit of sunshine and to chill out but I will be taking my running shoes. It’s fantastic for running over there.”
Our campaign has also been backed by Bucks Fizz star Cheryl Baker, who said the strength, endurance and focus Ray showed was commendable.
She added: “What he’s done is amazing and astonishing at his age. He deserves to be noticed by the Queen, he deserves to be knighted and I hope he makes it into the record books.”
Ray has also been given a personalised pair of trainers marking his amazing feat by New Balance, whose running shoes saw him through his 75 runs.
They were sent to the United States to be embroidered with “RM75”.
To sponsor Ray and donate visit www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/rwrr.
The Advertiser will be submitting its nomination for Ray’s knighthood this week and will publish details on our website and in next week’s paper.