Like many Newcastle Jets fans this weekend, Luke Alexander will journey to the Central Coast for Saturday night’s F3 Derby. But he won’t travel by car or by train.
Accompanied by four friends, Alexander is set to make the 90km hike down the motorway from Newcastle’s home ground McDonald Jones Stadium in an effort to raise funds for his good mate, Ashley Treseder.
The pair have been friends for about five years, having played football together at Wallsend FC in Newcastle. Treseder has played the game for over two decades and featured in the National Premier Leagues.
However, his life changed forever in January this year after an ill-fated jump off a jetty while on holiday in Shoal Bay.
The tragic accident left Treseder with a broken neck and a damaged spinal cord, but fortunately he was airlifted to Sydney for emergency surgery. Although the surgery was successful, he is paralysed from the chest down.
He may never walk again, but that will not stop him joining Alexander, Ben Hamilton, Dan Byatt, Kelsey Moss, Duncan Sandie, Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna and 100 other Novocastrians for the first part of the group’s journey down the coastline of New South Wales.
“We start at 3pm on Friday, and we’re hoping to do it in 24 hours,” said Alexander.
“It’s going to be mentally and physically tough – especially not sleeping – but we just have to remember why we’re doing it.
“We’re doing it for Ash, that will be the main driving force behind it.
“(Treseder) is going to try do the first 10 kilometres, he just had an operation on some nerves in his hands so it will depend on how his movement is, but I saw him the other day and he’s looking good.”
The footballing community in Newcastle have been right behind the cause.
“Newcastle Jets have been great, Lawrie McKinna has been amazing, he’s looking after us with the tickets for the game and he’ll be doing the first part of the walk as well.
“He’s organised for us to be in a box with some of Ash’s mates, walkers and support crew, I think it’s located just behind the Jets supporters which should be good.”
Close to $90,000 has been raised in support of Treseder’s ongoing medical expenses since January.
“Any little bit helps,” Alexander said.
“It’s going to be an ongoing battle for him with expensive medical bills.
“He’s very grateful for it all, so get behind him.”
As always in the Hyundai A-League there will be a lot on the line in terms of points and pride when Newcastle and Central Coast face off on Saturday night, but every now and then you get a game that means that little bit more.
And now, because of a handful of regular people doing extraordinary things for their mate, this F3 Derby becomes one of those games with a special significance.
“My message to Ash would be that you’re not alone, and we’re here to help,” Alexander said.
“Your story has touched a lot of people, you have the support not just of the Newcastle community but everyone world-wide.
“Keep fighting and keep doing what you’re doing, you’re an inspiration to everyone.”