The brilliant way Sunderland’s management team are raising funds for Steph Houghton’s husband and MND

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Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin are set to embark on a gruelling summer challenge in a bid to support Stephen Darby.

Darby, who played under Parkinson and Parkin at both Bolton Wanderers and Bradford City, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2018 and was forced to retire from professional football.

He subsequently established the Darby Rimmer Foundation and alongside his wife - England captain and South Hetton native Steph Houghton - is determined to raise vital funds to help those living with the condition.

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And Parkinson and Parkin have agreed to do their bit for the second successive year.

Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson is raising funds for the Darby Rimmer FoundationSunderland boss Phil Parkinson is raising funds for the Darby Rimmer Foundation
Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson is raising funds for the Darby Rimmer Foundation | JPIMedia

Forming part of a group from ‘The Sherwood Ranger’ - a pub local to Parkin - the duo are set to embark on ‘The Way of the Roses’ cycle trail in May. The journey will see them cover approximately 180 miles from Morecamble to Bridlington, with the group aiming to finish the challenge in two and a half days.

Last year, the team took on the Coast to Coast cycle route and raised over £25,000 for the Darby Rimmer Foundation.

And now they are raising funds once more for the foundation, with almost £5,000 donated already.

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Writing about the challenge, Parkin said: “We are all so proud of Stephen Darby because of his determination and dedication to not only fight his own disease but raise as much money as he can to help others fight it, he’s truly inspirational.

“Last year we felt a huge responsibility to finish the “Coast to Coast” because of your incredible support and sponsorship. We need that pressure on us again, so please donate to help people deal with this terrible disease. Any amount small or large will be greatly received.

“Stephen Darby’s aim is to help as many people as he can with MND and so is ours.”

A number of familiar faces have already donated, with the Sheffield United squad making a donation of £1,900 - while Billy Sharp and former Sunderland man Jack Rodwell have made separate, private donations.