Friends join man diagnosed with MND aged 30 on bike ride challenge to Rome

Davy Zyw was diagnosed with the disease nearly six years ago and says he is 'defying the odds'.

Friends join man diagnosed with MND aged 30 on bike ride challenge from Edinburgh to Rome Supplied

A man diagnosed with Motor neurone disease (MND) will take on part of a continuous bike ride from Edinburgh to Rome to raise funds for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

Davy Zyw, Senior Buyer at Berry Bros & Rudd, was diagnosed with the degenerative disease nearly six years ago at the age of 30 and says he continues to “defy the odds”.

As part of a hardy band of four friends, all in the restaurant and food and drink industry, Davy will take part in the gruelling 2,700km continuous ride from Murrayfield to the Stadio Olimpico.

The team will set off on March 1 with the aim of arriving in Italy’s capital on March 8, one day before Scotland take on the Italians in the Six Nations.

Joined by friends James Porteous, James Snowdon, Shaun Searley, Matt Jones, Hamish Clifton and Greg Shevill, the team have raised over £42,000 with as many as 50,000 participants expected to take part this year.

Davy Zyw (left) and James Porteous (right) have raised over £16,600 for the All Roads Lead to Rome challenge. Photo: STV News.STV News

Davy admits he has been through a “dark time” after receiving his diagnosis a year prior to Scotland rugby icon Doddie Weir, who died in 2022 from the disease.

He told STV News: “I’ve had a very complicated few years. I count myself very lucky.

“I was diagnosed with MND approaching six years now which fills me with pride but also a little bit of shock to say that.

“The average life span from diagnosis is two to three years in general. I continue to defy the odds which I’m very happy about.

“It’s been a very dark time. When I had that diagnosis, which was just a year behind Doddie, I didn’t know how this incurable, degenerative neurological disease was going to manifest itself within me.

“The first few months, the first year or two, was the hardest time for me, my family and friends because we just didn’t know – we were waiting for it to catch up.

“Fortunately for me, the disease is slow to progress. Every month, every week I get a little bit worse…as the doctors have told me it is spreading all over me.

“I am doing everything I can to fortify myself against it with fitness, rest, good wine and good gin! I’ve got a very difficult path ahead of me so I’m making sure I enjoy my time.”

Scotland rugby icon Doddie Weir died from the disease in 2022. Photo: SNS Group.SNS Group

James added: “Everyone that knows Davy took him being diagnosed very personally. You ask yourself ‘why is this happening to my friend?’

“What he has gone on to do after the diagnosis in terms of all these crazy rides he has been on. He’s a very hard man to know and to sit on your bum with so going out and doing this ride was something we felt we had to do.

“If he’s doing it, with all the challenges he has done, I’ve got to pull my finger out and help to raise money for this.”

Davy will join the team for the last leg of the journey from Sisteron to Rome after he previously completed the North Coast 500 in just four days.

In 2022, he cycled the ‘High 5’, a 275-mile route over the five highest roads in Scotland, and raised over £150,000 for charity.

Yet the passionate cyclist has described this year’s All Roads Lead to Rome challenge as the “most logistically insane” one yet.

He said: “It is logistically insane but I can’t take credit for organising those logistics, that’s down to James and a lot of the support team we’re doing it with.

“The cycle itself is going to be the most challenging part given that it is 2,700km but within that on the continuous relay side, you’ve got a continuous relay of support.

“The guys that are going to be driving, cooking, cleaning bikes will be making sure the only thing the cyclists need to worry about is the cycling and of course, fundraising.

“There’s a lot of plates spinning all at the same time but the team we have are fantastic at bringing that all together.”

Former Scotland rugby captain Rob Wainwright is to lead his own team during the ride and has been described as a “commander in chief” to lead the challenge.

The foundation, launched in 2017, is a charity committed to funding research to find effective treatments to motor neuron disease.

 Rob Wainwright will lead his own team as part of the All Roads Lead to Rome challenge. Photo: PA Media.PA Media

Davy added: “I’ve been involved in a few of his rides before, he’s been an amazing commander in chief in pushing the My Name’5 Doddie message.

“The Six Nations is a great time to do it, and in terms of fundraising there is a big captive audience because Doddie Weir was a mountain of a man.

“Two years ago we did Edinburgh to Cardiff which was a challenge at the time. Now we have to add on a few more countries to that, a few more thousand miles.

“Out of all the Six Nations stadiums they’re the furthest apart. I don’t know what we’ll do next year but it will be a lot of fun when it starts.”

James said: “Rob is the driving force behind these things, he’s a force of nature.

“He is always thinking what is next, what we can do that is bigger, to encourage people to put their hands in their pockets.

“It’s great to have someone so well known in rugby and beyond the sport. It’s great to have him leading us.”

Donations to the team’s fundraising page can be made here.

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