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Keith and Paul will join Rugby League’s most-capped player Adrian Morley and 17 other riders on the challenge in early June, when they will spend six tough days cycling off-road through small town America en route to the heart of the Big Apple.
All proceeds from the ride will help fund Rugby League Cares’s health and fitness programmes which are making an amazing difference to the lives of people young and old across Rugby League communities.
Keith, who made 43 international appearances for Great Britain and England during a stellar career with Sheffield Eagles and Leeds Rhinos, currently combines his position as assistant coach at Sheffield Eagles with an important role within RL Cares.
The Super League Grand Final and Challenge Cup final winner helps manage both the Movember Ahead of the Game programme, which has so far delivered mental fitness advice to over 3,000 youngsters as part of the RLWC2021 Mental Health Charter, and Offload, which has made a positive impact on the lives of more than 5,000 people.
“I’ve taken part in a fair few challenges since I retired but this is going to be one of the toughest,” said Keith. “520 off-road miles in six days will test everyone but the impact of the funds we raise will provide more than enough motivation.
“Rugby League communities have had it particularly tough over the last few years and I’ve seen at first-hand what a dramatic and life-affirming difference programmes like Offload and Movember Ahead of the Game are making.
“We’re supporting thousands of people, some of whom are very vulnerable, and it would be brilliant if the public could get behind what we’re doing and sponsor us.”
Paul made 339 appearances for Warrington and was twice a Challenge Cup final winner at Wembley in 2010 and 2012. He played in two Super League Grand Finals and represented England and Great Britain on four occasions.
In 2021 Paul joined RL Cares as Health and Wellbeing Lead in a full-time role which involves him running the hugely successful RL Cares for NHS programme, which is delivering mental fitness support to doctors, nurses and other key NHS heroes in the North West.
“Part of me is really looking forward to the UK Red Empire State 500, but a large part of me is filled with trepidation as I’m a cycling novice and this is a major league ride,” said Paul.
“I’m sure the fantastic NHS we’re working with will be very supportive and I hope the wider public across the North West get behind us.
“Meeting the wonderful people at the frontline of the NHS has been an eye-opening experience for me and I’m totally in awe of what they do. Knowing that all the funds we raise on the ride will enable us to continue supporting these genuine heroes is going to keep me going.”
The riders will fly out to Buffalo on Friday June 3rd and after spending Saturday in Niagara, will set off from the famous waterfalls on Sunday morning bound for New York city. Over the next four days they’ll follow the line of the historic Erie Canal, pass through the sacred homelands of the indigenous North American people on their way to the state capital, Albany.
For the last two days of the ride, the riders head south along the Hudson River, through the Adirondack mountains and along the Appalachian trail before emerging into Harlem and the Bronx en route to Manhattan island and an unforgettable finish in Central Park.
Every penny and cent of the money raised will enable RL Cares to continue its important work enhancing the lives of people across Rugby League communities.