John Power was one of the first people to get his name down for the Carnegie Rowing Challenge when it was launched. The marathon indoor row appeals to Power’s competitive spirit and, more importantly, gives him the opportunity to help raise money for Try Assist, the rugby league benevolent fund, which has helped him following a devastating injury sustained playing for Oldham.
Power broke his neck playing for Oldham at Dewsbury in 1995, when he was aged just 18.
It was a shockingly abrupt end to a promising professional League career for the young centre who came through the same amateur club, Mayfield, as former Great Britain captain Paul Sculthorpe, who is also taking part in the charity event.
While Power and Sculthorpe will row individual marathons, fans are being asked to complete the distance in teams of up to five people.
Power, 33, has set himself the target of raising £1,000 for the fund.
“It is a great organisation that helps not only lads like me who are injured playing the game but their families too. They help in a practical way, by helping pay for things like adaptations to homes, but there is also a huge social side too, a support network for the lads and our families. I am really keen to help raise as much as I can for them but I have got an awful lot of training to do.”
“I have used a rowing machine before as part of my general gym training for my core strength but nothing long distance and so I have a lot of work to do.”
Power will do most of his training at Tops Gym in Wakefield, which is run by Jimmy Gittins, another former player who has benefited from the help of the benevolent fund having suffered a similar neck injury to Power six years ago when playing for amateur side Sharlston Rovers.
Bizarrely Gittins was playing for Dewsbury in the game when Power was injured.
He runs the gym with physiotherapist Natasha Green, who worked with Power during his nine-month stay in Pinderfields hospital following his accident.
In the immediate aftermath of his injury Power was paralysed from his neck down but gradually he recovered movement in his arms and hopes to be able to stand within the next few years.
“The fund helps with some of my physio costs and paid to install a ramp at the house I bought with my fiancée Julie recently, which the council said would take them years to get round to,” he said. “The fund didn’t exist when I did my injury so I had to do a lot of my own fundraising at the time with family and friends.
“They got in touch when I was at university in Liverpool doing my masters and asked if they could help in any way. They bought me an exercise machine for my legs and other essential bits of support. I’d encourage anyone who can to come and have a go at the rowing challenge and help raise money for this great cause.”
Forty rowing machines, provided by Concept 2, will fill a sports hall at Leeds Metropolitan University on Thursday April 13 for the event so fans will be able to row alongside Scully, Power and a host of other rugby league celebrities including former Wigan full back Kris Radlinski and former Great Britain props turned Sky Sports double act, Terry O’Connor and Barrie McDermott.
Anyone wishing to sponsor Power directly can do so at his web page, www.justgiving.com/John-Power1
A team of referees has pledged to row, as have a group of rugby league writers. Wakefield Wildcats will field a team, managed by John Kear and a group representing the Steve Prescott Fund are also among the competitors.
Several of the competitions have already begun their fund raising efforts and welcome sponsorship and donations which can be given at: http://www.justgiving.com/carnegierowingchallenge
It is not too late for fans to join in too.
Anyone who want to take part as individuals or a team should contact Jane McKeown at Carnegie on 0113 812 9248, or e-mail carnegie firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application form.