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Walker by name, trekker by nature: A 66-day journey for great cause

For over decade Chris Walker dazzled us with his blistering speed and larrikin nature, and a further decade later we're happy to report not much has changed.

A 33-year friendship that started at a young age is providing all the motivation Walker needs to get back on his feet and trek a brutal 1,757 kilometres in 65 days for great mate Carl Webb and others in mind. 

The rugby league world was rocked last year with news Walker's former teammate Webb was in for the fight of his life after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 38.

The former Cowboys, Broncos and Eels forward started and finished his NRL career around the same time as Walker, playing 187 games at the top level.

Combined with the aftermath of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that has had an impact on many individuals and families across Australia, Walker knew the time was right to step away from his everyday life to help those in need.

He spent several weeks plotting a way to reach as many people as possible over a two-month period by mixing his passion for rugby league and raising funds for four key charities.

It led to the idea of walking from the top end of the Queensland coast to the bottom with a couple of mates joining him along the way.

Former Cowboys and Queensland enforcer Carl Webb.
Former Cowboys and Queensland enforcer Carl Webb. ©NRL Photos

"We've got three four-wheel drives behind us while we walk, one is carrying a caravan, the other one food and everything else we need," Walker told NRL.com.

"We pull up every 10 kilometres, have some food and rehydrate, then get going again.

"I'm about to go through my first pair of shoes but luckily have got Rebel Sport on board so we'll have a signing session in Townsville this weekend and hopefully get some more.

"There was a lot of planning that goes into the walk with the logistical side of things but we're underway now and absolutely loving it."

Walker started his journey in Cairns on April 26 and is closing in on Townsville's Queensland Country Bank Stadium for the Cowboys' clash with Brisbane on Saturday to walk into the packed venue alongside Webb.

Former Maroons bookend Nate Myles is also on board, partnering with Walker for the first leg of the journey before Walker begins to move towards Burdekin and then Mackay.

Walker is accepting donations through the charity fundraising platform 'Fund My Challenge' with the beneficiaries including Beyond Blue, RizeUp Australia, and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

He plans to finish at Surfers Paradise beach on June 30, but not before visiting a further eight destinations including Suncorp Stadium for Origin II, where he hopes to have Webb by his side again.

Former Broncos and Queensland winger Chris Walker.
Former Broncos and Queensland winger Chris Walker. ©NRL Photos

"Raising money for Charlie Webb was the real inspiration behind the walk but his charity wasn't registered in time so we've mixed things up a bit," Walker said.

"We've suffered a lot through COVID-19 so it's based on supporting some of these charities that have experienced an increase of people leaning on these services.

"It's the least we can do, and to be able to raise some awareness for the big fella while we're doing it. 

"I've known him for over 33 years, played a lot of footy against him and with him, he's an absolute legend. 

"I speak to him all the time and he's very appreciative of what we're doing."

 

To find out more or to donate, visit fundmychallenge.com.