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The Captains Of Wales Climb Kilimanjaro for fund raising!!

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Fifteen former Wales rugby captains to scale Kilimanjaro for lung cancer research

Jul 3 2009 by Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail

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Welsh Rugby Captains

FIFTEEN former Welsh rugby captains will scale Kilimanjaro next year in a bid to raise £1m for lung cancer research.

They will be accompanied by Welsh coach Warren Gatland in the most ambitious fundraising event ever organised in aid of the Stepping Stones appeal by Velindre Hospital in Cardiff.

The week-long expedition, which will see the former Wales captains climb to almost 20,000ft, has been organised by photographer Huw Evans, after his wife Sue was diagnosed with lung cancer last year.

A limited number of spaces on the climb are available for members of the public, who can raise at least £10,000 each towards the £1m target.

Huw, the national Wales team’s sports photographer, said: “Lung cancer is not a very well funded area of research because people think it’s brought on by smoking.

“My wife Sue was diagnosed in November. It brought home to us that it is not a smoking-related disease and that the prognosis for lung cancer patients is not good.

“We want to be able to turn that around. Hopefully, we will be able to say, we found a cure, and it was in Cardiff.”

Dr Jason Lester, a consultant oncologist at Velindre Hospital, said: “With this sort of money we can make a real difference – the aim has to be a cure, to try to find a solution to this disease.

“Whether a smoker or a non- smoker, it is an horrendous disease and unfortunately most people don’t do very well with it.

“Although we may never get to a cure for those people with advanced disease, hopefully we will have treatment that will keep them alive for longer and longer. We want to be able to turn what is a life-threatening and often fatal disease into a chronic illness, like diabetes.”

Lung cancer is Wales biggest cancer killer and almost 2,000 people will be diagnosed every year.

Scott Gibbs – who climbed Kilimanjaro earlier this year – Scott Quinnell and Paul Thorburn, who were at the launch of the trek at the Millennium Stadium yesterday, will be joined by Gatland and Phil Davies and 12 other former Wales captains on the Brains SA Captains Climb in September next year.

Gareth Thomas, Ieuan Evans, Mark Taylor, Mike Hall, Bleddyn Bowen, Jonathan Davies, Rob Howley, Rob Jones, Jonathan Humphreys, Bob Norster, Eddie Butler and Colin Charvis will all make the five-day climb to the top of Africa’s highest mountain.

Current Wales captain Ryan Jones, who was also at yesterday’s launch, will act as a figurehead and chief whip for the event – he is unable to take part because of playing commitments.

“I’d love to be able to go but I don’t think I’d be allowed a couple of weeks off,” he said. “I’m fully supportive of this and intend to help out in any way that I can – if that means taking Scott jogging on the beach, then so be it.”

Quinnell, who faces further knee surgery this year, said: “Scott Gibbs has already climbed Kilimanjaro and he’s warned me that you can hardly breathe and that your head is pounding by the time you get to the top. It’s like that going round the supermarket for me every day.

“I will be fit – one of the challenges is getting yourself in physical and mental condition.”

And Thorburn, who holds the record for the longest goal kick in rugby history, hopes to kick a ball from the summit of Kilimanjaro.

In a message from South Africa, Gerald Davies, Lions tour manager, said: “We face challenges everywhere, but this challenge goes beyond the rugby field – it’s a challenge for life itself.”

And Lions backs coach Rob Howley said: “Having lost someone to cancer many years ago, it is great to be a part of such a charity, raising money for Velindre. Climbing Kilimanjaro will be a wonderful experience and I’m so delighted that many other captains of Wales have put their names forward.”

To support your favourite captain taking part in the Brains SA Captains Climb, visit www.justgiving.com/brainssacaptainsclimb

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