Former rugby player Shane Willams is walking part of the Wales Coast Path from Cardigan to Goodwick in a bid to raise £1 million to enhance, improve and develop the cancer pathway in Wales.
The retired rugby player is one of several Welsh celebrities signed up to support former Welsh Rugby Union commercial director Craig Maxwell, who was diagnosed with incurable and inoperable EGFR lung and bone cancer in 2022.
Craig has launched the Wales Coast Path Cancer Challenge to raise £1m for the Maxwell Family Genomics Fund, a fund as part of Velindre Cancer Centre.
The 26-day challenge will see people from across Wales walk 780 miles of the coast path, to represent the 78 days it took him to receive his diagnosis from the point of finding his tumour. 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.
Craig is hoping to sign-up 30 people to each day of the walk and Shane Williams is encouraging people to join him on his legs.
Shane is walking on Thursday, 15 February from Menai Bridge to Moelfre; Monday, 19 February from Aberffraw to Treborth; and Tuesday, 27 February from Cardigan to Goodwick.
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 10 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 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 number of Welsh celebrities are signed up to take part, including TV presenters Derek Brockway and Wynne Evans, together with former rugby players Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts, Josh Navidi, Tom Shanklin, Ieuan Evans, Shane Williams, Martyn Williams, Jonathan ‘Jiffy’ Davies, Rupert Moon and former referee Nigel Owens.
Maxwell 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 join us in taking 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.”
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 Genomics 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.
For those unable to walk, but still keen to support, you can text WALK24 to 70191 to donate £10.