virtual boat race – Founder Spotlight

John Willis

Power2Inspire is the charity on a mission to embed inclusive sport into communities by delivering events for everyone to enjoy. Power2Inspire works with schools, universities, sports clubs and community groups to deliver sports events that everyone can be involved in, with all funds supporting the creation of fun and inclusive sports events. 

The charity was founded by John Willis, who was born without fully formed limbs and spent much of his childhood being excluded from sports. John created Power2Inspire to ensure his experience was not repeated and speaks to schools, clubs, businesses and community groups to share his experiences of life with a disability and how to overcome barriers. 

Power2Inspire was established following a triathlon relay in September 2013 where John joined forces with able-bodied friends, Tim Martin and Henry Brown, to compete in an able-bodied triathlon relay at Eton Dorney rowing lake. John undertook the swim, Tim the cycle ride and Henry the run.  Together they smashed their goal of not coming last – they finished 18th out of 27 teams – but more importantly realised it was great fun to participate in a mixed ability team.

Inspired by an advert showing non-disabled players joining a wheelchair user in a game of basketball, John established the core of the Power2Inspire’s mission – Inclusion through Sport.  He created the PowerHouseGames to unite individuals of all abilities through sport. 

King’s College School, Cambridge was a willing partner and the first two inclusive and adapted sports days were held in their grounds. It was a King’s pupil, who created Power2Inspire’s No 1 Rule, “To Have Fun!”. Power2Inspire added Festivals of Inclusive Sport in 2015, and have now hosted inclusive golf, badminton, hockey, cycling and tennis events. Most recently, John has added the University PowerHouseGames, which brings together students from University clubs, state, independent and special needs schools.  

John continued his fundraising challenges with a swimming challenge in 2015, completing 50 1,000m swims in 100 days around the country and talking at every school and club along the way. In 2016 in the run up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games John embarked upon another challenge, JohnsRoad2Rio, in which he completed all 34 Olympic and Paralympic sports. As a longtime rowing fan, ahead of the upcoming event John commented:

“I was a cox at Cambridge, and beyond, and when I saw the success of the Power2Inspire Inclusive Festivals -– including badminton, hockey, tennis and golf – that we run, I was determined to find a way to make a rowing event with the same philosophy, to encourage people of different abilities to participate together. Seeing Olympic champions competing alongside talented club rowers inspires me. I want everyone to experience the good in sport, the fun, the camaraderie; to really enjoy taking part and watching at home.”

We hope you enjoy the virtual boat race on Saturday 13th June 2020, which includes Olympian, Paralympian and club rowers racing to raise funds with your support and donations for the Power2Inspire Power House Games. 

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