Nathan Pentecost, the captain of the Penrith Panthers Wheelchair Rugby League team, is preparing to push himself 100 kilometres to raise funds for an inspirational youth leadership initiative.
The Panthers on the Prowl Kokoda Leadership Project gives a small number of local teenagers the opportunity to undertake a gruelling trek in the region of Papua New Guinea made famous by the courage and sacrifice of Diggers halting and pushing back Japanese troops in World War II.
Accompanied by community and business leaders, the Kokoda experience is life-changing for young people who make the tough journey.
In 2013 the project saw seven male high school students take to the Kokoda Track, accompanied by mentors including Panthers playmaker Jamie Soward and coach Ivan Cleary.
This year Panthers on the Prowl is hoping to take at least seven female students to Kokoda, with Australian Olympic champion Nova Peris OAM.
MPs Fiona Scott and Tanya Davies signed on as mentors for the incredible challenge.
On July 25, Pentecost will push his wheelchair 100 kilometres, roughly the distance of 2½ marathons, at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith. Pentecost hopes his phenomenal effort will raise $10,000 — enough to pay for two more students to join this year's Kokoda trek.
"The amazing experience of the students two years ago proves how quickly this journey can dramatically change lives," he said.
"The Kokoda Leadership Project recognises how important it is to invest time and energy into our youth and to help create young leaders in the community."
Pentecost feels particularly attuned to the Kokoda Leadership Project as his grandfather Laurie Pentecost worked as a prisoner of war on the infamous Thai-Burma Railway.
Laurie's tale of determined survival continues to inspire Nathan and will help him to overcome the physical and mental challenges of the push.
More details about Pentecost's Panther Push for Kokoda and a promotional video featuring Panthers legend Mark Geyer can be found on the Panthers website here: bit.ly/KokodaPush.
The official fundraising page can be found here: bit.ly/PantherPush.