Former sports stars Doddie Weir, Rob Burrow and Stephen Darby met on Wednesday morning to discuss their fight against motor neuron disease.
The trio are at different stages of their prognosis and met for the first time to discuss their experiences with BBC Breakfast.
The disease affects all three in different stages; Weir, a former rugby union player with Scotland and the Lions, is the most affected around the shoulders. Darby, a football player who came through the academy in Liverpool and most recently Bradford and Bolton, is the most affected in his hands.
Stephen Darby (left), Doddie Weir (center) and Rob Burrow (right) have come together to discuss their shared experiences of motor neuron disease
The trio hopes to raise awareness and to fight against the debilitating disease
Burrow, a former rugby league player who won eight Super League titles with Leeds Rhinos, loses his voice and admits that he just wants to keep his life as normal as possible.
The 37-year-old said: ‘The most important thing for me is normality. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I just want to live a normal life, bring the children to school, etc. “
Weir, 49, agreed: “Very good point. For me I’m further in line, so live for the day and the weeks and months will take care of themselves. Being here with these guys, meeting yourself is a very special day. “
Darby, 31, added that keeping a family life is his main goal, instead of chasing dreams: “I don’t really have a bucket list. It’s just to spend time with the wife, family, and friends. Just to see them happy and smiling makes me happy.
“I don’t think it will teach you anything as a matter of course … realize that it doesn’t cost much to be happy, so just enjoy it today.”
Former soccer player Darby wants to continue to enjoy a normal family-oriented lifestyle
Former rugby league star Burrow wants to be able to say the names of his children
Former rugby union player Weir is most affected by the illness in his shoulders
All three admit that they had to learn not to lean too much on themselves and not to be afraid of being open and honest.
WHAT IS MND?
Motor neuron disease (MND) is an unusual condition that affects the brain and nerves. It causes weakness that gets worse over time.
It is almost always deadly and can considerably shorten life expectancy, but some people live with it for many years.
There is no cure, but there are treatments that help reduce the impact on your daily life.
For more information, visit the NHS website
“You are at a stage where you say,” Look, I need help, “Weir said.
“These guys aren’t quite there yet, but it’s quite difficult because you, as a guest, just think,” I’m fine, “but with us that’s not entirely the case.
“I need much more help than these guys. My children do my hair but they do a Mohican and I can’t change it. They are pretty cheeky that way. It is such a debilitating situation, we are here to put the fight together to make a difference. “
Burrow added: “I promised my wife that I would be honest throughout the process. As you say, men keep things to themselves, too proud to ask for help, but I need help during this process. ”
‘You try to accept the diagnosis, but you fight the prognosis. That’s why we’re here today, “Darby said.
The disease is not something that only affects them, and they admit that it is a disease that takes a heavy toll on family members and loved ones.
Weir played 61 times for Scotland between 1990 and 2000 and was selected by the Lions
Burrow won eight Super League titles during a great career at Leeds Rhinos
Darby, pictured last year alongside his wife and English captain, Steph Houghton
“In a way it’s almost harder for your wife and family to see what you’re going through and they hurt as much as you do,” Darby said
Weir added: “My wife has also traveled with me … (after the diagnosis), she burst into tears. I said, “good, we’re going to fight.” It is difficult to tell family.
For Burrow, the biggest fight corresponds to losing his voice, and it has already changed beyond recognition. He just still wants to be able to say the names of his children.
“Unfortunately, one day I can’t talk,” he admitted. ‘This is not how my voice was, but hopefully I can tell the children through love and interviews that they love them.
“I think it’s important that my voice says their name.”
They believe that their shared background in sport has helped to give them the right mentality to fight.
Burrow said: “Doddie has shown me the way to follow … the positivity, his humor. I’m a man who’s crazy. I will continue with that! “
The trio believe that the mentality they have acquired by playing in the sport helps in their struggle
Darby added: “When you play against opponents, you are always looking for ways to beat them and improve them. That mentality translates into what we do now. “
“It’s like a game in a way. We are here to beat MND. Let’s work together and finance. The bigger the team, the better the result, “Weir said.
The sporting trio has come together in an effort to raise awareness and cure a disease without cure, giving people an average life expectancy of between one and three years.
“It is because of unfortunate circumstances that we have come together, but it is something that we must change into a positive one,” Darby said.
“I think by being here today and talking about what we are going through and about MND and how devastating a disease it is, it is important that we raise that awareness and convey that message.”
BBC Breakfast is on BBC One every day from 6 a.m.