It’s been decade since Pete Stephenson and Jimmy Gittins took part in the original SPF challenge when Steve Prescott led a group of ex-rugby league players and supporters on a cycle ride from Perpignan to Wembley in aid of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and the RFL Benevolent Fund. Now, in the anniversary year of that epic trip, they’re ready to do it all again and take part in Challenge Wembley.
Pete and Jimmy both suffered life changing injuries whilst playing rugby league. They sustained a neck dislocation, broken vertebrae and spinal cord injuries which rendered them Quadriplegic. Whilst they were initially told they might never walk again, both have defied that diagnosis and have got back on their feet but still have a degree of paralysis in all four of their limbs.
The pair, who were not able to cycle in the challenge a decade ago found a way of taking part by completing the journey on a quad bike, which was a challenge in itself as it was still relatively early days, in terms of spinal cord injuries, since their accidents. They will once again team up on the quad bike but are raising the bar this time around and will complete the last 20-25 miles of each day on a hand propelled trike. They will also take full part in the Dragon Boat leg of the challenge, up the River Thames and will complete the half marathon run into the Coral Challenge Cup final by using the hand cycle.
Pete, who now works fulltime at the Rugby Football League said: “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take part in this challenge again, I want to support Steve’s son Taylor, he’s incredibly brave taking this on, I know Steve would have done the same for me and it’s also for three amazing charities. I wouldn’t have been able to get my life back on track had it not been for the support I received from the RFL Benevolent fund. I guess everyone at one time will have been affected by cancer, I lost by dad to it in 2005. Christies Hospital are doing some amazing things and are helping so many people battle this horrible disease.
“Me and Jimmy have taken part in many challenges over the years and have shared some great memories along the way, but it’s been a fair few years since our last one together. It will be tough, we have a challenge within the challenge by hand cycling 200 miles in 10-days and we’ve got to overcome our own physical challenges to do that. I’ll be thinking of Steve for inspiration along the way for sure.”
Jimmy, who is a leading guest speaker and part of the State of Mind team added: “The old cliché in life is that until you lose something, you don't miss it.
Physically, 16-years ago I pretty much lost everything, however, through sheer determination and unmeasurable support, I believe life has given me another chance. Opportunities are all around us, however we have to make ourselves available to take them. 10-years ago Steve Prescott led us on this exact challenge, this time his son Taylor will lead us. We all miss Steve for lots of different reasons, I miss him, but I also will forever thank him for showing me the true meaning of ‘never ever give up’.”
Martin Blondel General Manager of The Steve Prescott Foundation said “To have Pete & Jimmy join us on this 10 year anniversary challenge is special, Steve from the outset wanted to include everyone on all his challenges, he wanted to show people how to overcome adversity with a positive mental attitude and that is exactly what Pete & Jimmy do.
We have a phenomenal team assembled, with limited places available.
There are easier ways to get to the Coral challenge Cup Final but they are not as exciting or as rewarding”
To support Pete & Jimmy’s incredible challenge please click this link https://justgiving.com/fundraising/peter-stephenson09