Mission accomplished for Mark Jones

Fundraising news // 11th December 2019

A former professional Rugby Union player has completed an incredible 1400km virtual journey paddling around the Welsh coastline.  Mark Jones, 49 from Llantwit Major in South Wales finished the virtual challenge this month by using a handle paddle machine, with all funds raised going to Myeloma UK.

In the summer of 2018 Mark was diagnosed with myeloma following a series of tests but as a natural competitor due to a successful sporting career, Mark was determined to not let his diagnosis get the better of him and set about thinking of ways to raise money for Myeloma UK.

As a husband to Bridie and father to Ruebyn, 13 and Isla, 12, Mark has always led a very active lifestyle and has maintained high fitness levels thanks to playing  professional Rugby, working in Rugby League, as well as being a keen surfer. Mark decided to use his fitness to take on the gruelling virtual paddle challenge whilst recovering from chemotherapy treatment and a recent stem cell transplant.

The challenge is typical of a man who has always had a positive outlook and who refuses to be beaten by the disease. By using the handle paddle machine he had installed at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW), Mark was able to complete part of the challenge whilst being confined to a single room to avoid the risk of infection during his treatment.

Speaking about his journey and the virtual challenge, Mark said:

“I’ve been lucky with the illness and it’s not made me too ill. But Hospital and solitary confinement can be quite boring and I wanted to stay active, so I bought myself a mini hand bike to get some exercise. Unfortunately, I slipped on my first night in hospital and my knee popped out.   So I put the bike on top of the bin and started pedalling with my hands. Then a conversation I had with a nurse gave me an idea for a challenge and the next thing I knew I was hand-cycling around the coast of Wales, Virtually!

I set off from Cardiff Bay near the hospital and I completed the challenge in 28 stages of 50 Kilometres stopping off at various beaches around the whole Welsh Coast where friends would virtually meet me there and I would tell the story.  I completed 900km in hospital and 500km at home during recovery.

Receiving treatment for myeloma is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But the support from the staff here at UHW and from Myeloma UK is incredible. I can’t thank them enough. My wife works in the NHS too so I have first-hand experience of how amazing our health service is and the difference it can make to people’s lives.”

So far Mark has raised a fantastic £6,532.33 and is determined to fundraise as much as possible:

“The fundraising challenge will continue up to Christmas day 2019 and I am now selling a book which documents my journey with 50% of the proceeds going to Myeloma UK. We are also making a film documentary that will follow me over the next year, which will talk about myeloma, my recovery and how I use surfing to help maintain a state of positive mental health. It will be entered in the London Surf festival in October 2020.”

Mark celebrated completing the challenge at his local beach and you can view the celebration video here:

If you would like to support Mark’s fundraising challenge you can also visit his JustGiving Page

If you’d like o support the work we do at Myeloma UK, organising your own fundraising event can be a fun and fulfilling way to get involved. Find out more here .