“I’ve too many reasons to live. I’m not giving in ‘til my last breath.”
Rob Burrow is attacking Motor Neurone Disease with the same spirit he attacked the sport of rugby league. In the BBC documentary shown last night ‘Rob Burrow: My Year With MND’, he tells his emotional story along with his family, teammates and friends.
In early September last year Rob was fighting fit, or so he thought. A rugby league legend, he spent 17 seasons playing for Leeds Rhinos, winning eight Super League titles along the way, as well as representing England and Great Britain. At an Rhinos’ awards dinner, teammate Kevin Sinfield spotted that his friend and colleague was slightly slurring his words and urged him to get it checked out. An appointment with a specialist confirmed his family's worst fears. Rob had an incurable disease that would take his life.
His wife Lyndsey had to come to terms with the fact that her childhood sweetheart, who she has been with since the age of 15, would not see their three young children grow up. Motor Neurone Disease is a horrible illness that slowly takes away Rob’s basic abilities. His speech has deteriorated rapidly over the last twelve months as has his ability to walk.
The pandemic has also meant trips to the hospital have been rarer than they should have been and a dream family holiday to Florida was cancelled. But all that matters now is spending time with his family, no matter where it is. Rob is now recording his voice as much as possible before he completely loses the ability to speak, so his children have something to remember when he is gone.
This documentary, along with the news that many other sports stars have been diagnosed with MND has helped raise awareness. World Cup winner Joost van der Westhuizen died in 2017 at 45, while Rangers legend Fernando Ricksen passed away in 2019 from the same disease. Now Doddie Weir, Stephen Darby and Rob Burrow have joined together to attempt to raise as much money as possible and find a cure for this debilitating disease.
This documentary asks a lot of questions regarding safety in the sport, but as of yet there have been no answers and no links proven between MND and playing contact sport, which is why more research is needed. 5,000 people are currently living with MND in the United Kingdom and, like Rob, they are all desperate for a cure to be found.
A truly emotional, educating and inspiring watch, please give half an hour of your time to this incredible family.
You can donate to the Motor Neurone Disease Association here.