Highlights & news

Velindre patient and fundraiser embarks on epic Wales Coast Path challenge

A dad of two who was diagnosed with incurable and inoperable EGFR+ lung cancer is this week embarking on an epic fundraising challenge taking on the Wales Coast Path in a bid to raise £1 million.

Craig Maxwell, the WRU’s former head of marketing, will be joined by a number of Welsh celebrities along the way including TV presenter Gethin Jones, Love Island star Liam Reardon, singer Wynne Evans, weather presenter Derek Brockway and a host of rugby players.

He is hoping to raise a monumental £1m for the Maxwell Family Fund, a fund as part of Velindre, to enhance, improve and develop the cancer pathway in Wales.

Starting on February 14th in North Wales, cycling from Chester to Menai Bridge, Craig is then being joined by over 500 walkers over the course of the 26-day challenge.

The challenge will see walkers cover 780 miles of the coast path to represent the 78 days it took Craig to receive his diagnosis from the point of finding his tumour. The rest of the 870-mile coast path will be cycled. It is being done in 26 days to mirror the QuicDNA project, a genomics research project to reduce diagnosis time for lung cancer patients to a maximum of 26 days.

Acknowledging the unpredictable nature of his ongoing treatments, Craig will be joined by a different Welsh celebrity every day of the walk, so that regardless of his ability to walk, he will have a representative to take on the challenge.

A rugby match ball will be relayed the entire distance of the challenge, symbolising Wales’ collective fight against cancer and it will culminate at the national stadium of Wales, the Principality Stadium, on 10th March for the Wales vs. France Guinness Six Nations match, where Craig accompanied by his children, Isla and Zach, will carry the match ball onto the pitch.

Craig says: “We are embarking on a monumental challenge to symbolise hope, resilience, and unity, and raise over £1 million for the research and development of new and innovate cancer testing and treatments in Wales. Having surpassed our initial fundraising goals of £300,000 for QuicDNA, we really hope people will support us on the Wales Coast Path Challenge. It will be our most ambitious journey yet as we strive to create a community united against cancer across the length and breadth of Wales.

“Cancer has touched our lives, challenged our resilience, but it will not define our future. This event will see people from all over Wales stand united, not just as individuals but as a formidable force against cancer.”

The people of Wales are being encouraged to support Craig’s efforts either by joining a leg of the challenge via https://maxwell.foundation or by taking on their own fundraising challenge between 14th February – 10th March via https://velindrefundraising.com. This can be anything from a 1-day walking challenge to walking a mile a day over the 26 days.

Paul Wilkins, director at Velindre Cancer Charity, says: “We are calling on everyone in Wales to support Craig’s efforts by walking what you can and raising what you can. Over the course of the event, 14th February – 10th March 2024, we would like as many of you as possible to get involved by challenging yourself to take on your own walk! This can be any distance, anywhere and at any pace! “We need your help to get as many people involved as possible, so reach out to your local walking groups, clubs, school or workplace and arrange a challenge for you all to get involved in!

“We wanted to make sure everyone and anyone could join us in being part of a Wales United Against Cancer. Every step and every penny will help create a difference to cancer patients and their families here in Wales.

“For those unable to walk, but still keen to support, you can text WALK24 to 70191 to donate £10.”

Craig was just 40 when he was diagnosed with incurable and inoperable EGFR lung and bone cancer. In the face of adversity, having told he had a limited time to live, he has thrown himself into raising hundreds of thousands of pounds to help others detect cancer earlier.

Over the last year, he has run the London Marathon, taken part in CARTEN, cycled 320 miles from Cardiff to Paris, cycled over 420 miles from Paris to Bordeaux and taken on the Welsh 3000s – climbing over 10 mountains, all over 3,000ft in 24 hours. Earlier this year, he was crowned Cycling Plus’ Rider of the Year for his efforts.

His story has touched the hearts of many, rallying support that surpassed all expectations. His efforts to date have seen him raise £430,000 to support the QuicDNA project, which aims to shorten the time it takes to diagnose lung cancer in patients in Wales. With a further £500,000 donated by The Moondance Foundation, set up by Henry and Diane Engelhardt, Craig has now launched his own charity fund.

The Maxwell Family Fund aims to enhance, improve and develop the cancer pathway in Wales. Administered and supported by Velindre, with support from the Moondance Foundation and All Wales Genomics, the fund will aim to make a lasting difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families in Wales.

Craig continues: “I’m proud to launch the Maxwell Family Fund, where hope, courage, and community converge in the fight against cancer in Wales. This is the start of my family and friends creating a legacy and showing my children that even at the worst time possible, you can still rise up and be positive and make a difference.”

Professor Tom Crosby OBE, consultant oncologist in Velindre Cancer Centre, says: “Craig is one of the most inspirational people I have met. His drive to improve the outcome for others who experience cancer is just phenomenal. That together with his ability to articulate the issues to the wider public, and his experience and expertise at improving how systems work, is amazing, yet humbling at the same time. We are just so grateful to him and his choice to partner with Velindre in delivering his vision, now through QuicDNA but also in the future through a legacy fund.”

To find out more visit https://maxwell.foundation and Wales United Against Cancer Walk | Velindre Fundraising.

The full route and list of celebrities:

Day 1 – Weds 14th Feb – cycling – Chester to Menai Bridge

Day 2 – Thurs 15th Feb – Menai Bridge to Moelfre – Shane Williams

Day 3 – Fri 16th Feb – Moelfre to Cemaes Bay – Shane Williams

Day 4 – Sat 17th Feb – Cemaes Bay to Holyhead – Rhys Williams

Day 5 – Sun 18th Feb – Holyhead to Aberffraw – Rhys Williams

Day 6 – Mon 19th Feb – Aberffraw to Treborth – Shane Williams and Rhys Williams

Day 7 – Tues 20th Feb – Treborth to Trefor – Gethin Jones

Day 8 – Weds 21st Feb – Trefor to Porthor

Day 9 – Thurs 22nd Feb – Porthor to Machroes

Day 10 – Fri 23rd Feb – Machroes to Borh-y-Gest

Day 11 – Sat 24th Feb – cycling – Borh-y-Gest to Aberystwyth

Day 12 – Sun 25th Feb – Aberystwyth to Llandysul – Ryan Jones

Day 13 – Mon 26th Feb – Llandysul to Cardigan – Josh Navidi

Day 14 – Tues 27th Feb – Cardigan to Goodwick – Shane Williams & Liam Reardon

Day 15 – Weds 28th Feb – Goodwick to St Davids – Sam Warburton

Day 16 – Thurs 29th Feb – St Davids to Nolton Corner – Ian Gough

Day 17 – Fri 1st Mar – Nolton Haven to Dale – Jamie Roberts

Day 18 – Sat 2nd Mar – Dale to Pwllcrochan – Ieuan Evans

Day 19 – Sun 3rd Mar – Pwllcrochan to Stackpole – Wynne Evans & Rupert Moon

Day 20 – Mon 4th Mar – Stackpole to Pendine – Jamie Robinson & Tom Shanklin

Day 21 – Tues 5th Mar – Pendine to Carmarthen – Lauren Jenkins & Andrew Strauss

Day 22 – Weds 6th Mar – Cycling – Carmarthen to Rhossilli – Jonathan Jiffy Davies

Day 23 – Thurs 7th Mar – Rhossilli to Swansea – Martyn Williams, Huw Bennett & Nicky Robinson

Day 24 – Fri 8th Mar – Swansea to Porthcawl – Derek Brockaway & Jamie Baulch

Day 25 – Sat 9th Mar – Porthcawl to Barry – Gethin Jones

Day 26 – Sun 10th Mar – Barry to Cardiff – Friends and family

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