American Football

Meet the man trying to walk 1,000 miles … in a pair of swimming trunks

So the image of a man dressed in a pair of skin-tight blue swimming trunks, accessorized with a woolly beanie, a football scarf of English Premier League club Everton, a thick pair of socks and a rugged pair of walking boots would make anyone look twice. The police certainly did, calling on him three times since December. The man in the trunks is Michael Cullen, more commonly known as "Speedo Mick" — a nod to the swimwear brand — who has captured the imagination of football fans across the globe wearing his signature outfit while completing feats of endurance for charity.His latest enterprise is walking 1,000 miles from John O'Groats at the top of Scotland to Land's End at the bottom of England, via Liverpool and London, to raise money for Leave the Light On, a community interest company he set up. Its goal is to provide help and support to those people feeling isolated.Cullen hopes to raise £100,000 for his walk and 500 miles through his epic journey he's already raised £88,000, according to his GoFundMe page. However, last Friday Cullen was forced to call a week long break to the walk after he suffered a calf injury. At a visit to Everton's Finch Farm training ground last week, the club's physios advised that he needed to rest. However, Cullen is undeterred and is continuing his walk today now that his recovery is complete.Leave the Light On's work takes place in Liverpool — Cullen's home city — which has wholeheartedly embraced his endeavors.Last weekend, at the FA Cup's third-round Merseyside derby tie between city's two teams, Everton and arch rivals Liverpool, Reds captain Jordan Henderson dedicated his match program notes to writing about Cullen, who he described as "a local hero."Cullen might be a lifelong Everton fan, but tribal loyalties were put to one side as Liverpool gave him a complimentary seat for the Anfield match and welcomed him onto the pitch at halftime. Liverpool put aside rivalries by inviting Everton fan Cullen onto the pitch at halftime of Merseyside derby clash in the third round of the FA Cup.READ: Football and food banks — How UK football fans are helping tackle society's 'gaping wound'READ: Football club donates 3,000 food parcels to the homeless after match washed out

Transcending football

"I've got a new found respect for Jordan after doing that. And they've got me with my Speedo's with Everton emblazoned on my bum coming onto the pitch, it's been unbelievable," Cullen tells CNN Sport.It's not just the city's two football clubs that have honored Cullen; the city's local paper — the Liverpool Echo — awarded him the community personality of the year award."It's like putting a big fluffy coat on," adds Cullen. "The love and respect my fundraising and charity work has brought to me has been fantastic. Some things transcend football and my Speedo's are one of them at the moment!A typical footballers' refrain is to take each match as it comes and to negotiate the mental battle of walking 1,000 miles in the winter Cullen has adopted a similar approach."I don't check the weather or how far I've got to go the next day," he says. "I daren't look any further because my mind has already taken a beating."Not to mention the beating his body has taken, too.Along with his current injury, he faced severe shin splints while walking through Scotland.The swimming trunks' idea came after Cullen completed a charity swim across the English Channel in 2014 at the age of 50. He attended his next Everton game in his Speedo's simply to show his pride and to raise more money, but the stunt caught on in a way he wasn't expecting and so he has kept doing it.The support and donations he received further motivated him. In 2017, he walked 700 miles from Liverpool to Lyon to raise money for the Alder Hey Children's Charity. In the past year, Cullen set up Leave the Lights On and donations from his current walk are going towards setting up the company and its projects.Cullen has been wearing his Speedo's and shaking his bucket at Everton matches to raise money for charity for years now.

'I was in trouble'

"Years ago, I'd lost my way," reflects Cullen. "I was in trouble. I'd lost my family, I'd lost my self-respect, I lost everything that meant anything to me."Someone gave me a hand up and now I'm following in their footsteps, basically. I'm just doing the same and this is how I want to live my lifestyle. Because if I'm not giving back, I'm taking."He is particularly keen to fund activities for children. Whether it be music lessons, sport or drama, he wants to provide kids with the opportunities that weren't available to him."There were a couple of choices I thought I had as a child, but you need to broaden your horizons. There's a massive world out there and I didn't know about it." Read More – Source

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