Ryan James will captain the side for the first time this weekend, but it will have to be without his signatory long hair, with his long locks set to be chopped in the name of charity this Friday.
The firebrand forward will have his hair trimmed after being inspired by young fan Harrison Wheatley (Harry), who has a congenital cervical spine disorder that has restricted him to a wheelchair since he was a toddler.
James met 13-year-old Harry after he was asked for a photo with the Wheatley family following the Titans’ win over Penrith. When they pointed him towards Harry, who was sitting on a wheelchair in the stands, Ryan leapt the fence and climbed the seats to not only pose for a more personal shot with the youngster, but present Harry with his football boots.
Despite his situation, Harry is walking the last kilometre of the City 2 South fun run this Sunday. Harry’s aunty Tracy will push his wheelchair for the first 4km of the fun run before Harry will get to his feet and walk the last kilometre by pushing the chair himself. Harry will raise funds from the event for the Starlight Foundation on his Everyday Hero account.
James, who is marrying fiancée Ana in late July, was considering sprucing himself up for the day by getting a trim. But in a bid to raise awareness for Harry’s fund, the big second-rower has decided to have his prominent curly locks lopped off mid-season to seek donations for Harry’s cause.
Harry’s mother Julie said their whole family had been flattered by James’ kindness.
“Once Ryan looked into the history of Harry it showed his spirit and kindness to do a massive thing and cut his hair short to help Harry help other people,” says Harrison’s mother Julie.
“Harry wants to raise money to help Starlight because he sees how special their work is for other children and for Ryan to go out of his way to help him is really special.”
James said it was a spontaneous reaction to climb the seats to talk to Harrison after the Panthers match, but he was instantly inspired once he learned more of his plight.
“For him to get out of his wheelchair and walk the last kilometre of the fun run to raise money for others is a pretty mighty effort and I just want to help in some way,” said James.
“I was looking to cut my hair shorter for the wedding and maybe get a charity involved to raise awareness and much needed money. But maybe it was meant to be meeting Harry and if people are happy to donate money to his fund if I cut my hair short for the second half of the season, then that would be great.
“The Titans and the Starlight Foundation have had a close relationship for a while now, so it is a good fit.”
Harrison and his mother Julie are hoping to be there for the big event, the new look to be created by Greg Bird’s wife Becky on Friday.
Harrison’s initial goal was to raise $500 but Ryan James and the Titans are hopeful they can help him raise ten-times that amount.
To donate go to: https://city2south2015.everydayhero.com/au/harrison#post_466372