AT MFC Foundation we do what we can to look after our communities and the people that make them what they are. We also look after our own.
Keith Robson is our Targeted Youth Support Coordinator, working with some of the hardest to reach families in the area. But it is his own family we’re talking about here and he has asked if together we can raise awareness of a rare condition diagnosed in his son Henry.
It came as a complete shock to Keith and his wife Michelle when Henry, three at the time, was diagnosed with Becker muscular dystrophy last November. An explanation on the Muscular Dystrophy website, explains more on the condition. Becker muscular dystrophy is a muscle wasting condition affecting, in nearly all cases, only boys or young men. It is a genetic condition that can be passed down from the parents but can also spontaneously appear without a previous family history.
There currently is no cure.
They are still processing the devastating news. To help come to terms with it, Keith has decided to focus his energies on something positive, which would benefit Henry (who turned four 10 days ago) in the future and has signed up to do his first Great North Run this September, hoping to raise as much money as possible to go towards funding vital research into muscular dystrophy, and in particular Becker muscular dystrophy – a condition, which was not something he, nor anyone he knew, had ever heard of.
“Even our GP had to look up the specifics,” Keith reveals. “It is vitally important that people know there are boys and men like Henry out there. We have a date with a series of top specialists in Newcastle next month and we’re hopeful we can learn a lot more there.
“The Great North Run is an iconic race and as we live just 35 miles away from Newcastle, of all the events available to take part in, this one was the most logical.”
The roadmap out of lockdown detailed on Monday night affords realistic hope that the race can go ahead as planned.
“If it does, I feel it will be a carnival atmosphere,” says Keith, “given the travails of the Covid crisis. “But even if the event can’t go ahead in Newcastle, I will still enjoy running the 13 miles. It will be good just to be more than seven miles from my house!”
Keith’s friend Lee Curtis-Marshall, colleague Paul Costello and family friend Neil Sharpe are all joining him and running for MDUK.
As a youth worker, Keith works with at-risk children and young people who are vulnerable to criminal exploitation. He uses sport as a means of building young people’s confidence and self-esteem and as way of introducing protective factors into their lives. In addition to this role, he has also been helping to organise emergency food parcels to Middlesbrough families in crisis during the pandemic.
Kiera Santry, Challenge Events Officer at MDUK, expressed her gratitude for Keith and his friends, saying: “We are incredibly grateful to Keith for supporting us with his first GNR. It is so impressive to see a family launch themselves into positive activities to raise awareness and funds for muscular dystrophy. We will be cheering him on at an event which as he says, will hopefully have an incredible post-Covid atmosphere.”
This article is about awareness and family resilience, but there is a Just Giving page should you be able afford or wish to donate.
Good luck Keith from everyone at the club and the Foundation. Stay strong.
*This article first featured in the matchday programme for the Boro v Cardiff City game on February 27th 2021