In an effort to raise invaluable funds for Motor Neurone Disease research, around 80 walkers are preparing for a blister-inducing 22-mile trek from Preston to Burnley, where they will be greeted by former Clarets midfielder, Lenny Johnrose.
Encompassing a range of healthcare workers from three major NHS Lancashire Teaching Hospitals as well as Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital, the annual cross-county pilgrimage is now in its fourth iteration and is raising funds for Royal Preston Hospital's Motor Neurone Disease Care & Research Centre and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Organised by Julie Sala, a MND Nurse Specialist at the research centre, the walk is taking place on September 29th and will see participants set off from Royal Preston at 7am and head along the A59 to Burnley Marks & Spencer, with the town's branch having chosen the MND Care & Research Centre as their Charity of the Year for 2018.
"I lost my husband, Santino, to MND, so that's my motivation; my family walk with me," said Julie of the event, which has raised £23,000 to date. "There's loads of different types of people doing it - we've never had this many."
While just 35 people took part last year, this year will see a swathe of doctors, nurses, physios, occupational therapists, M&S staff, friends and family, and charitable walkers from as far as Leeds and Liverpool getting involved in the eight-hour hike, with Professor Suresh Kumar Chhetri, team leader at the MND Care & Research Centre, also donning his walking boots.
"Having Professor Chettri taking part is good, because he's the main consultant and he covers everywhere and looks after lots of people in the Burnley area," Julie added. "And having Lenny Johnrose hand our certificates when we finish will be really good; really emotional."
Diagnosed with MND in March last year, Preston-born Lenny has recently spoken out about his battle with the disease, inspiring thousands with his message, and will be joined by the Mayoress of Burnley at the finish line of the walk to congratulate participants.
"Lenny has been brilliant," said Julie. "He's really pleased to be involved; the support he gets from the public gives him some comfort, and he's really brave to come out and show his support."
Ahead of the walk, Julie expressed her gratitude to Lloyds BMW Colne and Colne-based Graham Engineering for providing food and drink for the walkers as well as a BMW support vehicle. To donate, head to https://www.justgiving.com/teams/P2B4MND.