On the rugby league field, former Newcastle Knight Stephen Crowe was renowned for his tough, uncompromising style who wasn’t afraid to take on the game’s biggest forwards.
Twenty-five years later and the Port Stephens Council communications manager is tackling a challenge of even loftier proportions when he embarks on a 4000 kilometre expedition across Borneo’s rugged interior.
Mr Crowe is part of a 38-person contingent who will honour our Diggers by tracing the footsteps of the notorious Sandakan death march.
Leaving on October 24, the crew will cycle, trek and kayak from one end of Borneo’s coast to the other, raising money for brain cancer research.
Mr Crowe, whose grandfather Bob Watling was a World War II survivor, said the crew would be helping out former Knights teammate Mark Hughes and his foundation which has raised in excess of $10 million for brain cancer research in five years.
Last year Mr Crowe teamed up with other former Knights players to reach Everest camp base but almost didn’t come out alive.
“I was one of several members to get ill on our return to the camp. It started with severe headaches and I became very listless. My oxygen levels had dropped to 50 per cent,” Mr Crowe, a 49-year-old father of two, recalled.
Brain cancer is Australia’s biggest killer for people aged 40 and under and is particularly devastating for children under 10. Mr Hughes guarantees that every cent raised through the Borneo trek will go into cancer research.
“All the trekkers will be paying their own way so donors will be safe in the knowledge that their money is going into research,” said Mr Hughes, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013 and continues to have scans every four months.
“Unfortunately you are never cleared of brain cancer and there is no cure.”
In addition to the charity work and paying his respects to the Allied troops, Mr Crowe said there was an element of self awareness connected to the expedition.
“I treasure the time I spend with inspirational people such as Mark. Like Everest, I expect it will be a life changing experience.”
To donate go to borneocoasttocoast2018.everydayhero.com/au/stephen.