The mother of a terminally ill schoolboy has described the support for the Joining Jack charity, set up to fund research into his illness, as ‘completely overwhelming’.
Jack Johnson, five, son of former Wigan Warriors star Andy, 38, and wife Alex, 28, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in October 2011.
The muscle-wasting disease is as yet incurable prompting the founding of Joining Jack in May 2012, and Alex believes having the charity has helped them come to terms with Jack’s illness.
“It’s completely overwhelming the support we have had – it’s unbelievable really,” Alex told MM.
“It’s fantastic that so many people are willing to help us.
“The charity has given us a focus. Jack’s diagnosis devastated us but this helps us work our energy.”
The charity is one of the forces behind the inaugural Wigan 10K run – taking place on 8 September – and counts a number of famous faces among their ambassadors.
Tour de France winner and British Olympic legend Sir Bradley Wiggins is a patron of the charity, as is Andy’s former Wigan team mate, Rugby Union World Cup winner Jason Robinson.
Alex admitted living in the knowledge of their son’s condition has proved tricky for her and Andy, but she believes the charity allows them to direct their focus on a good cause.
“It is difficult, we have difficult days, but we have got to try to be optimistic,” she said.
“I think the charity helps a lot, it gives us the chance to turn it into a positive.
“The aim is to raise money and then direct that in the best possible way towards research.”
Awareness of Joining Jack has spread through its linked fingers gesture –to represent two ‘J’s – which is used as a celebration by sportsmen including Wiggins.
Since its formation the charity have participated in a number of events to raise money for research and raise awareness of DMD.
In one, Andy competed alongside a host of rugby league legends in the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens – Veteran 10s competition in December.
Alongside the Wigan 10K run, a team of cyclists will also be compete in L’Etape du Tour – an event in which amateur cyclists complete a stage of the Tour De France on July 7.
DMD affects one in every 3,500 boys worldwide and can confine sufferers to a wheelchair by the age of 12.
The terminal condition means an average life expectancy of 25.
In a blog on the charity’s website, www.joiningjack.org, Andy said: “Everybody hopes that this generation have a different path than those that have gone before but it will take much-needed awareness and lots of money.
“Nobody has the right to tell me that it costs too much money to save my boy’s life.
“I will be here fighting till my last breath!”
For more information on Joining Jack, muscular dystrophy or the Wigan 10K run visit www.joiningjack.org