Next Saturday two former Rugby League players who sustained life-changing injuries whilst playing the game will embark on a 450-mile road trip. Pete
Stephenson and Jimmy Gittins will aim to complete the journey on a single quad bike, which the pair will take in turns to drive.
The challenge that they face is to set off from Wakefield and head across the country to Wales. They will then make their way up to Scotland before returning back down through the North of England to West Yorkshire.
The pair hope to complete the trip in three days, which will be a remarkable feat considering the disabilities they both have. Having been told that they would never walk again they have both defied doctors’ opinions to get back on
Jimmy Gittins said: “We have been involved in challenges and fund-raising activities in the past, but we are going to try and do this on our own. We will have no support team and the two nights we are away, we will camp outside in tents in an attempt to be entirely self sufficient.
“We decided to do this after all the negativity surrounding spinal cord injuries due to a recent storyline in a well-known soap opera. We thought the time was right to show that in some cases there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s important to remain positive.”
Pete and Jimmy who can now walk with the aid of crutches will set of from Tops Fitness and Rehabilitation gym in Outwood, Wakefield. This is where they have both received years of physiotherapy under the guidance of Natasha Green. They will be holding a breakfast barbecue and are asking for as many people as possible to turn up and send them on their way.
Pete Stephenson, who is in the final year of a sports journalism degree at the University of Huddersfield, which the RFL Benevolent Fund has helped to fund, said: “There will be a bucket collection at the gym when we start, although this challenge is more about the awareness factor than money. I think they write people off too quickly after a spinal injury and for me this is about showing those in similar situations to us that you can lead an independent life after an injury.
“When I was in hospital no one ever had anything positive to say and would always be telling you what you wouldn’t be able to do. Then one day Jimmy, who I’d never met before, came to see me, and when I saw him on his feet it gave me the massive boost that I needed. If just one person who has recently had an injury sees or reads about what we are doing and gets that same boost then we have achieved our goal.”
A special thanks goes out to Swillington Trailer Center have loaned us about a grands worth of gear for Pete and Jimmys trip.