Kevin Webber again defied the odds by coming through a 250 km challenge – and he raised vital funds for charity in the process.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Wimbledon supporter swapped a scheduled marathon event in the Sahara for his garden! Before he started, our Under-18s squad sent him a good luck video message and Kevin said that helped to pull him through.
Take a look below at the latest instalment of Kevin’s remarkable story.
Just over five years ago, aged just 49 and with three kids at school, I was told I had terminal Prostate Cancer and I could only live for two more years. It would have been so easy to give up, but I used the bad news as an opportunity to make the best of my situation. Some days, especially through chemotherapy, that was tough, but I never wasted any time within the constraints I had.
I started running crazy ultra-marathons all over the world and raising money for Prostate Cancer UK, that combination has helped me enjoy every day as it gives me a purpose to do good things every day. Then coronavirus struck. Apart from my family, I have three loves: running, fundraising, and, of course, AFC Wimbledon. It looked like all three were being taken away from my probable all too short life. Then I thought, ‘let’s find a way’. Sadly, I can’t bring back football, but I dug out all my old programmes and press cuttings going back to 1979, reliving so many fantastic Wimbledon memories, including promotions, away games, and people I met on the old West Bank - many of whom I still see now.
Running and fundraising was more of a challenge. My favourite race - the 250 kilometre ultra marathon in the Sahara - had been called off, but then I thought, ‘if footballers are having to train at home, why can’t I do this race at home?’ So I ran about a marathon every day, plus a double marathon one day for a week, which is the distance of the MDS. The big difference is that I swapped the Sahara for my garden!
Running over 2,600 laps of my back garden was quite a challenge. Each lap was less than 0.1 of a kilometre and required 16 turns to complete. Those turns put incredible pressure on my knees, ankles, and hips, plus I just could never get any rhythm. It was a hot week too, nothing like the 50c heat of the Sahara, but far more humid here. I got plenty of strange looks as people saw me run around my small driveway, but as the week went on many started to speak to me (at distance). Every day I started to the sound of “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC, just like the real race, and the king day took me 12 hours, but I never stopped once on any day. I know from experience that you don’t get anywhere in a race if you stop when the clock is ticking.
About halfway through the week something amazing happened. I got a video message from all the AFC Wimbledon academy players, many of whom I had made a presention to the other year about not giving up. They made me feel so special. The players making that effort was such an emotional “I am not worthy“ moment for me. I was doing Facebook Live chats every hour I ran and had loads of people sending me messages, following “Kevs thoughts” for each hour. Topics included discussing how wonderful the NHS is to what’s my favourite crisp flavour!
Along the way I had also decided to try and raise some money for Prostate Cancer UK as their funding has all but dried up with no one able to run marathons and other events for them at the moment. I also split the money with the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Fund as they are helping people who the state has missed, often with basics like food or keeping a mental health call centre open. I managed to get on BBC Breakfast TV , BBC Radio five times, Podcasts, and other media channels. Amazingly, I have raised over £30,000 in two weeks. You can still support these good causes by sponsoring me. (Donations can be made on this website).
Whilst I love running, I have to say it was a release to finish the challenge. Loads of friends walked and ran virtual kilometres with me. My local scout group has about 40 kids doing virtual runs this weekend - all at home alone to prove it can be done. Although I loved crossing the line for the last time, the next day I felt a bit flat so now I am planning my next lockdown adventure. Who knows what that will be!
My parting message to you all is please don’t give up on life due to lockdown. Find an alternative to what you like doing, stay fit, phone friends, send messages to people who you think may be lonely. Make the most of every day as I know only too well how precious life is. See you at a match as soon as that’s possible!
Take a look below at Kevin's inspirational message after he completed his charity challenge.