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Dad with incurable cancer reaches midway point of epic Wales Coast Path challenge with £700k raised

A dad of two who was diagnosed with incurable and inoperable EGFR+ lung cancer has reached the halfway point of his Wales Coast Path challenge with £700,000 already raised.

Craig Maxwell, the WRU’s former head of marketing, is 13 days into his 26-day challenge where he is aiming to raise a monumental £1m for the Maxwell Family Fund, a fund as part of Velindre Cancer Centre, to enhance, improve and develop the cancer pathway in Wales.

His journey so far has seen him cover over 350 miles from the North Wales coast, around Anglesey, the Llyn Peninsula and down the Ceredigion coast.  He has been joined by a number of Welsh celebrities including TV presenter Gethin Jones and former Welsh rugby players Josh Navidi and Ryan Jones.

The challenge will see over 500 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.

A rugby match ball is being 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.

Acknowledging the unpredictable nature of his ongoing treatments, Craig is being 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. Celebrities that will be walking in the second half of the challenge include former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss and former Welsh rugby captain Sam Warburton.

Craig says: “It has been amazing so far. The different people joining each day has really lifted me. The rain on some days has been hard and I’ve got some pretty epic blisters, but apart from that I’m feeling good.

“I’ve been overwhelmed that over 550 walkers have signed up to join me and that we’ve already raised over £700,000. It takes my breath away. I have been lucky to meet people along the way who are going through similar experiences to myself, or their families are going through similar experiences, and I’ve found that emotional, yet inspiring to hear their stories. It really has spurred me on to keep pushing so that we can create a better future for others going forward. Thanks again to everyone for their support.”

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.