Five years ago Andrew Kennedy had to give up playing rugby union following a broken leg and damage to his knee. Three years later he began his strongman training and in 2016, the 40-year-old from South Shields became the UK truck pulling champion.
Now in the build up to defending his title in August 2017, Kennedy has set himself a fundraising target of £2,500 with all proceeds going to GBWR to help get the national team to the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Kennedy said: “Having seen that GBWR had their funding cut and hearing about what the athletes and their supporters go through to compete I felt that it would be great cause to try and help. Rugby has given me so much and still does and so I see this as my chance to try and do something to give back to the rugby family.”
Following UK Sport’s decision to cut all funding for wheelchair rugby, GBWR have been relying on donations from the public and have raised nearly £35,000. The funding decision has jeopardised GBWR’s chances of competing in Tokyo. After winning the European Championships in Germany last month, we automatically qualify for the 2018 World Championships in Sydney, with the prospect of not having to funds to enter a team.
“Having seen some of the stories about what the athletes have gone though, I find it truly inspirational and I am proud to at least in a small way help them to get to where they deserve to be.” Continued Kennedy.
Playing most of his senior rugby in the front row for Darlington Mowden Park, Kennedy now takes up coaching roles with Newcastle University and the England Students team as well as running the Developing Player Program in Durham.
Last year, Kennedy, a dad of two, raised £400 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity close to his family’s hearts after a friend of his daughter was diagnosed with cancer.
“I was looking for a new challenge as I missed the competitive side of playing and I was enjoying the strength elements of my training and a friend who is now also my coach suggested giving strongman a go.
“After a friend of my daughter was diagnosed with cancer for a second time, I thought it would be a very worthy cause to raise money for.” He said.
He clearly has rugby running through his veins. His success at the strongman events are a testament to his years on the pitch and skills he learnt as a tight head in Darlington have all contributed to allow him to become a truck towing champion. This year he is confident that he can retain his title and reach his fundraising goal.
“It is going to be a tough competition and there are some exceptional competitors but I am confident that I can be in with a shout of defending my title as I am getting technically better at the events and hopefully getting stronger!”
To donate, please visit Andrew’s Just Giving page to help him reach his target:
Watch his video story here:
Decided to put a video together to promote my fundraising efforts for GB Wheel chair rugby. pic.twitter.com/qXRBfMDt92
— Andy Kennedy (@andyboom41) July 5, 2017