A RUGBY team want to help a disabled youngster take his first steps by completing a sponsored walk from several top rugby league grounds.
More than 40 members of the Dearne Valley Bulldogs team plan to take on the trek from a variety of Yorkshire rugby league grounds to their base in Swinton in an attempt to help cerebral palsy sufferer Mackenzie Lodge.
All the walkers will end up at the Sportsman pub in Swinton but they will set off from several different starting points, including the grounds of Leeds Rhinos, Hull FC and Huddersfield Giants.
The community-minded team are pulling out all the stops to help the family of three-year-old Mackenzie to help raise the £50,000 needed to send him to the United States for specialist surgery.
It is possible that the procedure, carried out by surgeons at Missouri’s St Louis Children’s Hospital, will put the youngster on the path to walking without the aid of a frame.
“Helping the community is a huge part of our club’s make-up and Mackenzie is such a good cause that we’re willing to do all we can for him,” said club secretary, Simon Oleisky.
“Mackenzie’s dad is a supporter of the club and the lads were always keen to know how Mackenzie was so, as the end of the rugby season approached, we decided the time was right to do a bit more than just show an interest.”
Players and fans of the Bulldogs aim to complete their walks on the weekend of April 24 and 25, with those walking from Hull FC’s base at the KC Stadium in Hull tackling a 60-mile, two-day trek.
The fund-raising efforts aims to raise about £10,000 and is the first in a long line of events planned in aid of Mackenzie.
Simon added: “It will be a long weekend for some of those taking part but there has been great enthusiasm for what we’re doing. We’ve already got around 40 volunteers and the number is rising all the time.”
Mackenzie’s dad, Bulldogs fan Gary Lodge (37), said: “The Bulldogs were clearly moved by Mackenzie’s condition and the support they have shown in organising this is just unbelievable. It’s fantastic.
“Mackenzie’s condition effects his motor skills and means that he cannot walk without the aid of a frame but we’re hopeful that, if we can get him to the right specialists, he will one day be able to walk.
“He’s an absolutely fantastic child. He lights up a room and is always full of smiles.
To see how happy he is, you wouldn’t believe that he struggles with cerebral palsy like he does, but we want to be able to give him the quality of life he deserves.
“If he can walk into the Bulldogs’ Swinton headquarters in a year or two years’ time, they will really know they have contributed to something truly fantastic.”
To support the Bulldog’s fund-raising trek contact Simon Oliesky on 0792 7627 244.
For more information about Mackenzie and his family’s fund raising efforts visit www.Mackenzielodge.co.uk.