After his older brother, a Liverpool fan, was diagnosed with cancer, an Everton backroom staff member has pledged to run 26 marathons in 26 weeks to raise funds.
Following his sibling Tom’s bowel cancer diagnosis last year, Evertonian and Blues First Team Physical Performance coach Jack Dowling, 30, has set himself the arduous challenge, with funds going to Macmillan Cancer Support Charity.
Throughout his treatment, Tom received critical care from Macmillan, including support from specialist nurses.
And Jack, from Crosby, will now tackle the ‘Project 26:26’ challenge – the equivalent of running from Liverpool to Berlin – to thank the Macmillan teams who have been there for his brother and other families in similar situations.
Jack, who grew up an Evertonian despite his older brother’s Liverpool fandom, has also set himself the lofty goal of raising £32,250, which would fund a Macmillan nurse for six months.
His campaign began on October 22nd at Merchant Taylors’ School in Crosby and will conclude 26 weeks later at the London Marathon in April.
All 26 marathons will be squeezed into an already packed schedule, with Jack celebrating his first fatherhood last year and juggling fatherhood with his daily duties at Everton under manager Sean Dyche.
Jack also works with amateur athletes from the Crosby-based Alive Fitness community running club, many of whom have gone on to compete in their first marathon in the last year.
Commenting on the challenge, Jack said:
“In 2022, Tom was diagnosed with cancer, and we will continue to be supported by Macmillan Cancer Support teams throughout his treatment. I want to give back in the best way I know how – running!”
Jack has received a groundswell of support from within Finch Farm and wider messages of encouragement, including from Merseyside sporting royalty Tony Bellew and the nation’s favourite PE teacher and fellow fundraiser, Joe Wicks, who has already raised nearly £4,500 in the first week of launching his online giving page.
“The response has been really moving. It’s given me a real boost and made me more determined to raise as much money as I can to say thank you.
“It’s going to be a difficult thing to do, mainly in terms of juggling the marathon schedule and recovery around family, work and other commitments.
“But I have seen, first-hand, the difference that Macmillan and other support teams, particularly at the specialist centres where Tom’s been treated, are making day in and day out.
“This is what has inspired me to take on this challenge and to give a little something back.”
Nicole McIlveen, Macmillan’s Relationship Fundraising Manager for Merseyside, who is also a member of Alive Running Club in Crosby, added:
“We wish Jack the best of luck for his incredible challenge, which will help us support other families affected by cancer.
“Macmillan is almost entirely funded through donations from our supporters, and we can only be there for people thanks to the fantastic efforts of fundraisers like Jack.
“Cancer is not going anywhere, and Macmillan is needed now more than ever.
“Whether it’s creating new services, adapting old ones or speaking up on their behalf, we are working tirelessly to ensure people with cancer get the vital support they need right now.
“The money raised from Jack’s marathon of marathons will help us to do that.”
Jack’s fundraising page is available via JustGiving or you can follow his progress on Instagram via @jdphysicalprep or online at project2626.info.