A RECOVERING alcoholic is set to row the Atlantic for charity.
Tom Fitzsimons, of Newton Hill, is hoping to raise around £70,000 for Try Assist – the Rugby League’s benevolent fund, and the drug and alcohol treatment charity, Addaction.
The 36-year-old, who has been sober for more than three years, completed the gruelling Marathon des Sables across the Sahara Desert for the charities last April.
But the Woodvale Challenge, with Londoner and fellow endurance athlete Jamile Siddiqui this December, will be his toughest yet.
He said: “The marathon was good, but I think this will really capture people’s attention, because as far as I know, I’m the first Wakefield man to have a go at rowing the Atlantic.
“I want to change people’s attitudes to people like myself. We’re not lepers or demons and should be treated no differently to those who have any other illness.
“But there are still people who think my alcohol addiction was my own fault.”
Mr Fitzsimons used to drink 16 pints a day and weigh 18 stone, but he turned his life around with the help of exercise, qualified as a personal trainer and re-built relationships with family and friends.
This week, he was hoping to win the support of rugby league clubs when he cycled between all of them, starting at Hull KR and finishing at the Crusaders in Wrexham.
The Wildcats fan and player sponsor said: “We dropped off a letter of intent outlining what we were doing and asking for support for a cause that has done so much locally.
“More than 100,000 people watch rugby league every weekend and if we can get them on board that would be great.”
The pair will row nearly 3,000 miles in a 23 foot long purpose-built boat from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua.
The team are looking for corporate sponsors, as well as donations. For more information call 07921 998639 or visit www.dryingout.org