The King's men
Bill Arthur explains how the bravery of a paralysed young player has inspired a new charity venture.
Last Updated: 17/03/11 8:12am
There are still around 300 days to Christmas but here's something to put on your wish list - a Christmas card designed by Matt King.
Not the Warrington Wolves centre but the former London Broncos Academy player who, at the age of 17, was left paralysed from the neck down when he was injured during a game.
Matt painted a beautiful Christmas card last year, holding the brush between his teeth to do the artwork. Proceeds from the card went to the Rugby League Benevolent Fund which has given Matt so much support since his injury in 2004.
The Christmas card was a huge success with around 5,000 sold. It had to be reprinted three times so it's no wonder that the Fund trustees are keen for Matt to do another card this year.
He'll do it - if he can find the time among all the other things that are going on in his life. This is a guy who suffered a devastating neck injury which has left him confined to a wheelchair. He breathes with the aid of a ventilator and requires around-the-clock care.
But that hasn't prevented him from studying law and gaining a first class degree at the University of Hertfordshire. Over the last few months he's done his solicitor's exams and he's been offered a job by a law firm in London.
He completed the New York marathon in 2007 and has also done the Great North Run. He's a regular at Super League's Grand Final and at the Challenge Cup Final and goes to watch Harlequins RL when he can.
Matt is an inspirational young man and that inspiration has resulted in two of his former team mates in that 2004 Broncos Academy side deciding to take up a challenge of their own.
John Sullivan and Jack Malin were playing alongside Matt on the day he was injured. John is now a teacher in Ascot while Jack is a personal fitness trainer based in Manchester. They felt they needed to do something to demonstrate their support for their former team mate and so they've decided to cycle from Paris to London to raise funds for Matt.
It's a ride of around 300 miles and they hope to cover the route in four days, finishing in Trafalgar Square on April 4, the seventh anniversary of Matt's injury.
John and Jack are doing it tough - they have no sponsor, no support team and are funding the venture themselves. Anything they raise will go to help their former team mate. They're both fit and active 23-year-olds but have never attempted a long distance cycle ride before.
Neither of them is brilliant at navigation. Matt suspects they'll end up in Lithuania and not London. But they're determined to give it a go because that is exactly what their friend has done, despite his life-changing injury.
If you want to help John and Jack on what could be their very own tour de France then visit Matt's website, www.goforitmatt.com, for details and to find out a bit more about a remarkable young man.