Veteran from Rugby who lost leg in Afghanistan takes on 700km Yukon challenge - The Rugby Observer
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17th Aug, 2022

Veteran from Rugby who lost leg in Afghanistan takes on 700km Yukon challenge

Editorial Correspondent 30th May, 2022 Updated: 30th May, 2022

A DETERMINED veteran from Rugby who lost his leg after stepping on a homemade bomb in Afghanistan is among a team of current and ex-soldiers who are rowing down 700km of the Yukon River to raise £100,000 in aid of military mental and physical health.

Tony Checkley is determined to tackle the gruelling challenge to prove that his injury doesn’t define him, as well as support those veterans going through what he did.

A team of eight serving and veteran Grenadier Guards, five of whom have life changing injuries, will take to open canoes and traverse 700km of the Yukon River in Northwest Canada to raise funds for veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, SSAFA, the armed forces charity, and The Grenadier Guards Colonel’s Fund.

Tony’s right leg was amputated below the knee after his injury in 2012. He was taken back to the UK and was in hospital for four weeks – but 10 weeks after losing his leg he was walking again, and after 12 weeks he was running.

He said: “I’m taking on this challenge to help raise money for other veterans in similar circumstances to me.

“I’ve never backed away from any challenge because I like to push myself to the limits. I want to prove I’m not disabled to my kids and show them anything is possible.”

The 700km journey, between Whitehorse and Dawson City, will follow the route of the original settlers and prospectors who first ventured into this wilderness in the early 19th century.

The team will embark on June 8, and will be completely self-sufficient for seven days, as they navigate their way through the Yukon waterways for approximately 16 hours a day, camping overnight on the shore.

With five of the team having life changing psychological and physical injuries, including amputations and PTSD, their aim is to prove that they are not defined by any disability or injury, and that – with the right support – they can achieve great things.

The greatest dangers will come from the Yukon itself, which can vary from 22km to just 300m in width, with currents anywhere between six to 14mph. False channels, tributaries, rocks and hidden obstacles are rife. When they set up camp, the team will have to contend with bears, elk and wolves.

Robert Marsh, Director of Fundraising at Combat Stress, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the team for taking on such a gruelling endurance challenge. To complete 700km of such a harsh and unforgiving environment is an incredible feat, and I am confident that their efforts will demonstrate to others with physical and psychological injuries, just what is possible with the right support.

“The money raised will help us to continue providing our specialist support to veterans with complex mental health problems.”

Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO at SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity said: “I was delighted to hear that the team has embarked on such a fascinating and demanding challenge in Northwest Canada. SSAFA will be following the event closely and can’t wait to hear about the adventure they’re beginning.

“We are grateful that the team chose to include SSAFA in its fundraising efforts and we will ensure the money raised goes towards those who need it most.”

The team has currently raised over £65,000, and hope to reach their £100,000 target by completing the challenge.

Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/yukon-700 for more information, and to donate.

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