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In 2014, we had the pleasure of making a film about an inspirational Yorkshireman called Jimmy. We were asked by State of Mind to tell Jimmy’s story on film to help others see that even in the face of extreme adversity, there is always hope.
Jimmy Gittins broke his neck ten years ago playing one of his final games of a semi-professional rugby league career. Since that moment, he has had to learn to do pretty much everything in life all over again. But for Jimmy, that wasn’t enough of a challenge. Ten years post-injury and he has clocked up a number of remarkable physical and mental endurance challenges to raise funds for others, the most recent of which in 2014 was joining a group of able-bodied walkers from Lands End to John O’Groats – Jimmy participating on a hand-cycle.
I’ve personally got to know Jimmy Gittins very well over the last few years since Mocha’s first involvement in helping establish the State of Mind campaign, and I’m now very proud to call Jimmy a good friend and fellow trustee of the State of Mind Sport charity. Jimmy’s serial fundraising habit is something that has helped define his life post-injury, and with every challenge completed comes fresh belief that one day he will “get to finish the game he started”.
As a lover of endurance events myself – and generally trying to prove to myself that anything’s possible – I’ve taken a keen interest in the challenges that Jimmy has undertaken, and vaguely threatened to join him one of these years. Well that year has come.
On Monday 5th October, I’ll join Jimmy and nine other gents over in Hull where we’ll embark on a 200+ mile journey to Old Trafford, Manchester in time for the Grand Final on Saturday 10th October.
On previous endurance events, Jimmy has put his disabilities to one side and completed challenges in the same manner as the able-bodied participants. This time, the able-bodied participants will complete The Journey of League’s Extraordinary Gents on custom Batec hand cycles kindly supplied by Cyclone Mobility.
Jimmy’s team, dubbed League’s Extraordinary Gents, include ex injured rugby league players Ryan Glynn, Peter Stephenson, Mike Burnett and Danny Sculthorpe, State of Mind co-founder Dr Phil Cooper, soldier Andy Reid who lost three limbs in Afghanistan, rugby league photographer Andy Davies, Mick Bradshaw from Sporting Image, State of Mind presenter Will Stringer and myself. Also joining us are Wakefield four-piece Skinny Living whose recent track The Journey will undoubtedly become our road trip anthem.
Over the six days of The Journey, we will hand cycle an average of 30-40 miles per day. Overnight stays will be in the salubrious surroundings of a tent pitched on the rugby fields of welcoming amateur league clubs for whom we’ll present the award-winning State of Mind education session. We recently launched The Journey officially at a photo shoot in Leeds – here’s the launch film we put together off the back of that event.
Jimmy designed this unique event as homage to the Walk Against Cancer in 2007, his first endurance challenge post-injury and the life-changing event at which he met and became close friends with the late Steve Prescott MBE. Steve had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer on that walk in 2007 and eventually lost his long battle with the disease last year. But his legend lives on and inspires Jimmy to follow Precky’s example and prolifically fundraise for those less fortunate.
Steve Prescott’s outlook on life was ‘the body achieves what the mind believes’. It’s a mantra that I know will be uttered countless times in early October on the long road to Old Trafford.
And so, to the all-important charity bit. We are fundraising for the Steve Prescott Foundation with the money raised going to two fantastic causes – The Christie Cancer Hospital in Manchester and TryAssist (formerly the Rugby League Benevolent Fund). Thanks also must go to our main sponsor – 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
I know that Mocha’s friends and associates will do us proud by supporting The Journey however you can.
You can easily donate:
online at our JustGiving page
or by texting JLEG51 £10 to 70070 (or any amount you like!)
Author: Owen Cotterell, Director