Bob Stephenson, a rugby league legend who was well known for running his team over the line to win a match, simply wanted to run and run, to run nonstop for 24 hours to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association of Australia.
And he managed it.
As his sons Jimmy and Duncan Stephenson, as well as Paul “Toff” Jones and Jane Gribble, both of whom were close to Bob, attested, it was a challenge that would take immense dedication.
“Bob ran almost every day until we knew he could no longer run. I couldn’t run with him,” Duncan Stephenson told Yahoo7.
But there was still plenty of running ahead for Stephenson who had previously run the London Marathon in less than three hours. He embarked on the challenge of his life on Sunday morning, stopping every two and a half hours to try and eat some food.
“If I was home and there was something I wanted to eat, I would seek out my Mum or my Dad to make it for me,” he told the Adelaide Advertiser.
“I ate a chip and a bag of tomatoes with a lettuce leaf, but that’s about all that I could get down,” he said.
Even worse, a group of researchers had borrowed a quad bike to make sure that when Stephenson ran on Saturday night he would not have any scratches on his long, white legs. But when the scientists went away to work on their book, Stephenson started running along, with only a soda bottle as cover to keep him warm.
To be fair, Stephenson can do one hell of a jogging. At 71, he spent 14 years playing rugby league in the semipro leagues and 37 years in league from a Brisbane grand final appearance to a state final. He played in three grand finals in five years with Western Suburbs in the old National Rugby League. He was also a six-time grand final runner-up at the NRL level.
More recently, he was the head coach of the Parramatta Eels and a member of the Eels rugby league selectors. He now works in the hospitality department at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
His challenge will go on for 24 hours on Sunday night as his way of representing friends and family who have been suffering with MND, as well as people all over the world who have lost their lives to this disease.
In an emotional video made by the South Australian rugby league, Stephenson said he hoped to give hope to those fighting the disease.
“I hope people look at me and say ‘I could do that, I could live for another day’,” he said.
Watch the entire video below.