Fitness duo to tackle gruelling fundraiser challenge for North End teenage girl with terminal brain cancer

TWO fitness enthusiasts are set to embark on a gruelling challenge to raise money for a teenage girl with terminal brain cancer whose bravery and selflessness has touched the lives of people across the world.

By Steve Deeks
Saturday, 18th July 2020, 12:30 pm

John Walker and Ray Pharoah, owner of the city's Southern Legion Strength and Conditioning Gym, will put their muscles to the test by taking on the famed Murph Workout to raise funds for 16-year-old gymnast Sian Reeds, of North End.

As previously reported, the teenager was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive DIPG tumour in 2018 sparking her into making a bucket list to make memories with her family.

Sian’s story swept across the globe as the high-performing gymnast continued fundraising for good causes despite her illness.

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Sian Reeds and Ed Sheeran

Her efforts sparked the interest of global icon Ed Sheeran, who arranged for Sian and her family to attend one of his concerts for her 16th birthday last August.

After hearing about Sian, John and Ray decided to take on the challenge in September. The lung-busting ordeal consists of a mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 press-ups, 300 squats and another mile run - all while wearing a 10kg weighted vest.

And as if that was not enough, they will do the circuit for 24 hours.

The workout is named after a Navy Seal who died in Afghanistan.

John Walker and Ray Pharoah

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Ray, 43, said: ‘I was told the story about Sian by John who said we should do the challenge and I agreed. It’s nothing for us to do that compared with what they are going through – they are so brave.

‘Hopefully the money we raise will help tick some things of her bucket list.’

Ray, who has been working out from home, is now more than two weeks into training for the herculean challenge which he knows he has to get right to stand a chance of completing.

‘It’s definitely going to be a big challenge,’ he said. ‘You have to build things up so your body gets used to it otherwise you will get injured.

‘The hardest part has been training with the 10kg vest. It’s important to test it out and see where it rubs before because you don’t want to be getting blisters a short time into the workout

‘The world record stands at 16 Murphs in 24 hours. We’re hoping to get at least 10 done.’

Ray is also motivated to see the challenge through after losing his 30-year-old cousin Charlie Pharoah to leukemia last year. ‘He loved coming to the gym,’ Ray said. ‘I want to do it for him too.’

It is hoped those keen to support the challenge - set to be shown via Facebook Live - will join John and Ray for two-hour slots to help ‘push them along’.

Matthew Reeds, Sian’s dad, is also set to take part in the effort along with his youngest daughter, aged 15.

Matthew said: ‘It’s an incredible challenge they are undertaking and I can’t believe they are attempting it.

‘I am hoping to do a Murph with my youngest daughter to support them in the challenge.’

Speaking about Sian, Matthew said: ‘Unfortunately the tumour has started to progress so we are keeping an eye on her to see when she will need a second round of radiotherapy to relieve symptoms.

‘She is doing ok though and trying to keep active as much as she can. She is looking to do a toy collection for her 17th birthday (in August) to donate to children with cancer in Hampshire.’

John and Ray have set a provisional date of September 25 for the challenge.

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