An intrepid duo of rugby-mad fans aim to take part in the 10,000-mile Mongol Rally this summer to raise cash for a young man, Max Levene, who was paralysed in an accident during a schools rugby match.
Mike Parlby and Ed Blackwell will hit the road in a 0.8 litre Daewoo Matiz – all Mongol Rally cars must be under one litre – and they’ll set off from the UK on 16 July, hoping to reach the finish in Siberia within their five-week target or by the 12 September deadline.
They need to raise a minimum of £1,000 to take part – money which will then be split between the organisers’ favoured rainforest charity, Cool Earth, and Parlby and Blackwell’s chosen charities, the Max Levene Trust, and Back Up, which helps people in the UK who have spinal injuries.
The duo were playing for Kelly College against Truro School in 2009 when 17-year-old Truro player Levene suffered his spinal injury. “I was on the other pitch but Ed was in his game. When it happened, both games stopped and everyone was aware of what was going on,” recalls Parlby.
Truro School set up the trust to help Max with the slogan “Remember the boy, support the man” and thousands have since been raised by them and the local rugby community. Levene beat the odds to return to school and take his A Levels and he is currently finishing a Masters degree in development economics at the University of East Anglia. He says: “The trust has been brilliant, allowing me to do lots of things I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise, and I think it’s an honour that people still think about me and the accident.”
Despite his life-changing injury, Levene does not support recent calls for tackling to be banned in schools rugby. “I feel it would completely kill the game at junior level. I don’t think people should be forced to play contact rugby but we chose to play it and were coached to tackle properly.”
To sponsor Parlby and Blackwell in the Mongol Rally and help them achieve their fundraising target for the Max Levene Trust, Back Up and Cool Earth, go to bataarlatethannever.com