Reaching Mount Everest Base Camp alongside former nib Newcastle Knights teammates, Mark Hughes couldn’t be any prouder.
“To get 28 out of the 28 to base camp was a big achievement in itself because it’s not easy once you’re 5,500 metres above sea level,” he recalled.
“We worked as a team, stuck together and we got up there, but it’s so good to now be home.”
The Mark Hughes Foundation’s Everest Challenge Team, which included the likes of Paul ‘Chief’ Harragon, Matty Johns, Danny Buderus, Kurt and Matt Gidley and Stephen Crowe, trekked a gruelling 120 kilometres over 14 days to reach Base Camp.
But Hughes says the biggest achievement of all was the money raised in a bid to help find a cure for brain cancer.
“Between us we raised about $450,000, which is huge,” commented Hughes.
“The 28 guys all paid their own way to be over there, and they all raised money through family, friends and businesses so it was a huge achievement.”
Just a week on his return home to Newcastle following retirement from rugby league, former Knights great Kurt Gidley packed his bags for the trek of a lifetime.
“It was certainly a different challenge to anything I have ever faced on the field,” stated Gidley.
“The altitude was certainly tough and I’m not sure what the statistics are around it… but I could guarantee, not everyone makes it.
Hiking to the world’s biggest mountain, Gidley says it was a sight to behold.
“Right from the start it reminded me a little bit of Australia with dense bush land,” Gidley described.
“You are always either uphill or downhill and when you were going downhill, you always knew there was going to be a pretty tough uphill climb to come.
“It gets colder and colder, the higher in the mountains you get and by the time you get to Base Camp, it feels like you have landed on the moon.
“It’s a pretty barren place but the scenery was just amazing.”
Hughes admits the dedication to be able to raise close to their target of $500,000 was unbelievable, not just from those who were doing the fundraising but to those who donated.
“The support we received was amazing from friends, family, businesses, right across Newcastle and the Hunter and right across NSW,” Hughes explained.
“Adam MacDougall couldn’t be with us but he donated $100,000 to the cause and that was huge.
“nib was amazing as well by filming and documenting everything and also giving a lot of support by supplying our gear… so we were lucky to have some great support.”
The funds raised will go towards the foundation’s brain cancer care nurse and future education.
“We have a brain cancer care nurse and she does a wonderful job at John Hunter Hospital,” cited Hughes.
“The other main aim and focus is research, and we have some great things happening… so we’re going to keep improving, adding more researchers, to help find a cure for brain cancer.”
Gidley applauded Mark for his tireless dedication in continuing to build the foundation.
“The work he has done with the foundation to get where he is today and the research and money raised for brain cancer, is a great thing,” stated Gidley.
In a bid to reach their $500,000 target, donations can still be made to the Mark Hughes Foundation HERE.