When South Sydney Rabbitohs brothers Sam, Tom and George Burgess lost their father to motor neurone disease a decade ago, they promised they would always look after each other.
“It brought us together, we were close anyway, but once a thing like that happens you have to come together as a family," Tom said. "That’s what our Dad taught us, to always stick together.”
To honour that legacy, Sam, 29, twins Tom and George, 26, and their mother Julie will be tackling The Sun-Herald City2Surf presented by Westpac together.
The family is halfway to their fundraising goal of $10,000 for FightMND, a charity focused on finding effective treatment and ultimately a cure for motor neurone disease.
Their father died while the boys were teenagers, within a couple of years of diagnosis. He lost his ability to walk, talk, eat and eventually to breathe. Sam took a lead role caring for his father, including carrying him up and down the stairs in their house each day.
“It was 11 years ago now, but not too many days pass that we don’t think about him," Sam said. "You also learn a lot from the experience, it’s shaped the men we’ve grown into.”
George added that their father's absence was a "hole". "It's missing a huge part of your life and your childhood," he says. "I guess you learn from it, things you'd rather not have to learn. It did bring us closer."
Older brother Luke also plays rugby league in Britain.
Anna Skelton, fundraising manager for FightMND, said entering the Burgess team was a milestone for the foundation.
"This is the first time FightMND have entered a Team in Sydney’s City2Surf," Ms Skelton said. "FightMND is in its fourth year and have raised over $40 million for their cause."
Sam said the family supported FightMND because they wanted to help other families who are struggling with the disease and move towards a cure.
“I think FightMND are leading the way to get awareness of the disease and pushing to find a cure," he said. "They asked us to help out and we were ready to get on board, if we can help in a small way that would be good.”
The brothers said they were not too concerned with run preparation, since they were already in training for rugby league.
The City2Surf is two days after the Rabbitohs play the Roosters, and there will be another game five days later.
Sam said their coach had been "very supportive" but was worried about the toll on their bodies, and they wouldn't be out to break any records.
“We’re going to have fun along the way and chat to people on the walk,” he said. “The main thing is raising some awareness and money for FightMND to continue their research.”
The City2Surf is on August 12.