'Everyone wanted to be around Maddy - we should be doing everything we can to keep her memory alive'

Maddy Cusack, of Sheffield United.
Maddy Cusack, of Sheffield United. -Credit:Jacques Feeney - The FA via Getty Images

A friend and former teammate of Sheffield United star Maddy Cusack is set to take part in a huge physical challenge to raise money for the foundation set up in her honour and help “keep Maddy’s memory alive”.

Ellie Gilliatt, who now plays for Lincoln City Women, played alongside Maddy at Sheffield United during her time as captain for the club. She will be running a half marathon and a full marathon this year in order to raise money for The Maddy Cusack Foundation.

Maddy, who was vice-captain of the Blades, died at her home in Horsley, Derbyshire, on September 20, 2023. Cusack, who was just 27 years old, was the club’s longest serving player and their first to reach 100 appearances for the women’s team.

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The Maddy Cusack Foundation was set up by Maddy’s family in the aftermath of her death in order to help empower other young girls to take up football and continue Cusack’s legacy in inspiring footballs of the future.

Ellie, 35, will run 39 miles across the two events to raise £1,000 for the foundation and “help keep Maddy’s memory alive”. She said: “The foundation is a cause close to my heart. This is a completely self-funded charity that’s being driven by her closest family and friends - they’ve managed to raise £30,000 - £40,000 in the first year which is phenomenal for an independent charity. They all work full time and they’re driving it in any spare time they have.

“It’s important to keep Maddy’s memory and legacy alive by helping to raise money for them.”

She says Maddy was a “talented and professional” player, who “everyone wanted to be around” before her tragic death. Ellie added: “She was driven - she loved football and her number one priority in life was to succeed as a football player.

“She was a real positive girl and a good friend. Maddy was a real decent human being both on and off the pitch - those aren’t always two things that go hand in hand.”

Ellie will be running her half marathon on August 18 followed by the Peterborough Marathon in November, just 12 weeks later. She said: “I’m still playing football at the moment - I’m retiring in the next two weeks so I’m trying to juggle playing football, training, my job as a lead portfolio manager at Network Rail, and looking after my three-year-old - so it’s all good fun at the moment.”

Ellie has already raised £595 of the £1,000 target within a week of launching her fundraising page.

“I’m really happy and hoping to maybe go over that threshold and raise as much as I can," she said. "We’re not talking about a massive charity here - as long as people keep talking about it, and raising more for it, it will help to keep Maddy’s memory alive so it’s something that all of her friends, family, teammates and colleagues should be striving to do."

She added: “What Maddy’s mum, brother and sister have been through is immense - to have gone through that, as well as raising all of these funds, is incredible.

“To be able to work so hard to continue Maddy’s legacy when they’ve lost so greatly is an achievement in itself. It’s a huge credit to who they are as people. Me running a couple of marathons is nothing in the grand scheme of things.”

To find out more about Ellie’s GoFundMe and to donate, click here .

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