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SQUASHATHON TO RAISE MONEY FOR RARE DISEASE

Posted: 19.02.14

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Keen squash player Tony Popham has organised a 24-hour Squashathon to raise money for two charities following the tragic death of his baby son from a rare genetic condition after just nine weeks.

The 36-year-old will be joined by 30-year-old friend Rob Jeeves for the event, which will take place at the David Lloyd Club in Bristol on March 8, with both playing a different opponent every hour for 24 hours.

Altogether 48 players will be involved, with the pair’s opponents ranging from world-ranked players to some who haven’t played the sport since their school days as they seek to raise as much money as possible for the Jennifer Trust and Children’s Hospice South West in Bristol.

The Jennifer Trust is the charity for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), from which Tony’s son Daniel (pictured above) died in August of last year.

Tony said: "Like most people, we’d never heard of this condition, yet we discovered that SMA is the biggest genetic killer in children under two years old – surely everyone should be aware of this, right?

SMA is a recessive genetic condition, meaning that two faulty copies of the gene have to come together – one from each parent – for the disease to occur. When both parents carry the faulty gene, there is a one in four chance in each pregnancy of the baby being affected by SMA.

“Now the scary bit which could affect you or someone you care about: approximately one in 40 of us carries the faulty gene that causes the condition; that’s over one million people within the UK. Every year approximately one in 6,000-10,000 babies will be born with this brutal condition. Today, there is no cure or screening programmme available for SMA.

“Although the typical life expectancy for SMA Type 1 is 6-9 months, our son Daniel was severely weak and after just nine weeks he passed away peacefully in our arms.”

The Squashathon is the first of nine fundraising challenges being organised in 2014 by the Pophams to represent the nine special weeks Daniel was alive. Others include a three-peaks race in 24 hours, a London-Paris bike ride and the Bournemouth Marathon.

You can help by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Danielsheroes to learn more about the cause and to make a donation; you can also follow their activity on twitter @Danielsheroes and Facebook – www.facebook.com/Danielsheroes.

Tony and Rob have already received notes of good luck from top international players such as Nick Matthew, James Willstrop, Gregory Gaultier and Mohamed Elshorbagy.