A relative of legendary Wolves manager Stan Cullis is among the Wolf Pack taking on the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run for Cure Leukaemia.
And Stephen Cullis, Technical Director of the Women & Girls set-up at Wolves, believes it is a Cullis trait to go out and lead by example as he aims to raise awareness and funds as part of the team of runners from the staff at Molineux.
Stephen has previously completed two Tough Mudder events and was disappointed to be working abroad when a group of Wolves staff took on the ‘Wolf Run’ in May, raising just under £10,000 for Cure Leukaemia and showing support for the club’s goalkeeper Carl Ikeme in his battle against the disease.
Carl is now in remission and considering his next step having announced his retirement from football, and another Wolf Pack is now embarking on another fundraising drive with the Half Marathon in the Second City on Sunday, October 14th.
“I think it is important to try and give something back, and for me to set an example, both to my young daughter Freya and the staff I work with at Wolves,” says Stephen.
“And on top of that, I want to get fit and healthy again and get rid of the ‘Dad Bod’ which I have developed!
“I was disappointed to miss the Wolf Run, which would have been right up my street, but now I have the chance to get the trainers on and do something to raise awareness and perhaps help someone out there when they need it most.
“No one could ever have anticipated the terrible news Carl (Ikeme) received over a year ago, but he has been an inspiration in coming through it all bigger and stronger.
“If he can overcome leukaemia in the way that he has, then surely I can run 13 miles and raise some money in the process.
“I would like to think that someone would help me in my hour of need and so hopefully all of us taking part in this Half Marathon can help other people in just the same way.”
Stephen’s cousin’s Grandad was the legendary Stan Cullis, whom, as a player, helped Wolves become one of the top teams in the country.
He then went on to become the best manager in Wolves’ history, masterminding all three of the league titles the club has won, as well as two FA Cup triumphs.
Although Stephen never met him, he says his influence is never too far away, and not just because of the fantastic statue of Stan, situated outside the stand which takes his name at Molineux.
“When people spot my surname it is a subject which often crops up and yes, I am a distant relative of Stan,” explains Stephen, who himself has previously managed the Wolves Women team.
“My Mum, my Auntie and my Uncles all knew him and, from what they have told me, he would have been urging me on to do this run just as he would his players out on the pitch.
“It is a bit of a Cullis trait to want to be the very best that we can and to be willing to lead by example.
“So I would certainly say he has inspired me in what I try to do both in life, and at Wolves, and that includes this challenge to try and help other people.”
Stephen has now embarked on his training for what he expects to be a very different physical challenge to what he has experienced previously.
“With other challenges like the Tough Mudder, there are obstacles to break up the course but in terms of actual running I have never really gone further than a Fun Run,” he adds.
“It is going to involve a different mentality, and I will have to keep motivated because it is a long way to run!
“I am sure the atmosphere in Birmingham will be fantastic and we will all galvanise each other.
“We will all be struggling at some point but we will drag each other on towards that finish line.”
Anyone wishing to support Stephen can donate at his Just Giving page – justgiving.com/fundraising/Stephen-Cullis1
To enter the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run click here