Robert Cooper appeared fit and well when he died unexpectedly in 2010 aged 25. His father John died from the same condition in 2012 aged 63. Both were season ticket holders at Oakwell.
Now family, friends and fellow Barnsley supporters are to walk 19 miles from the stadium to the John Smith Stadium in Huddersfield where the team are playing that day. They are raising money for the Robert and John Cooper Tribute Fund. The fund is part of the Cardiomyopathy Association, a charity that provides information and support to affected families.
The walk has been organised by family friend Kimberley Binns, a 30-year-old aftermarket co-ordinator from Gawber Road, Barnsley. Her family grew up near the Coopers in Barugh Green, went to school together and went on holiday together. She and Robert’s sister Sarah are best friends.
Kimberley said: “Our Robert’s death shows how the condition can so tragically affect families, leaving people bewildered and searching for answers. Sadly we have now discovered that his dad, who never got over Robert’s death, died from the same condition.
“We wanted to support the Cardiomyopathy Association which does so much to help families and help educate the medical profession but it gets no government funding. So Robert’s family set up the tribute fund which has so far raised over £17,500 for the charity.”
Kimberley and other walkers, currently 19 in total, will set off at 5am to be in good time to reach Huddersfield for the 12.45pm kick off. Their route will take them to Darton, via the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and through Flockton.
She said: “We will be walking along the main roads and collecting money on the way. We hope to have some peeps from fans going by. We want to raise at least £4,000 but I will be pleased with any amount and it will help raise awareness and keep Robert and John’s memory alive.
Anyone who would like to join the walk should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07754 844297.
To support the walk, go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/WalkForRob2013
TLC Homecare, which provides care at home in the region, is donating 40 high visibility jackets to help keep walkers safe.
Cardiomyopathy affects people of all ages, including babies, and is usually inherited. It is the main cause of sudden death in those under 35 but when it is found, it can usually be successfully treated. There are various types, including dilated, hypertrophic and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.
For more information about cardiomyopathy, see the Cardiomyopathy Association website at www.cardiomyopathy.org or call the freephone helpline on 0800 0181 024.