HE’S been stabbed three times, seen loved ones shot to death and miraculously escaped being gunned down himself – but now Dwayne Fields is preparing for his biggest challenge yet.
The 27-year-old has been training in Plymouth alongside veteran international race walker Edmund Shillabeer as he gears up for the 2010 Polar Challenge.
The 370-mile trek sees the competitors battling across snow and frozen ocean as they race from the tip of Canada to the North Pole.
Entering its sixth year in April, the month-long challenge will be televised to 168million homes in more than 100 countries.
Jamaican-born Dwayne is determined to steer youngsters away from the violent crime he grew up with in Hackney, east London, and donate money to the Action For Children charity on his return.
“I’ve had my experiences with gun and knife crime – I was a victim of both – so I want to encourage people away from this sort of lifestyle,” he said.
“If the message is coming from someone like me, someone who’s been there, then hopefully the kids will be able to identify with it.”
Dwayne, who lost a close friend to a shooting two years ago, was stabbed in his abdomen in one attack, then knifed twice between his shoulder and chest in another. He also had a gun pointed at his chest – but when the gunman pulled the trigger the weapon miraculously failed to go off.
“When it didn’t go off I wanted to retaliate,” he said. “Luckily I took a few minutes to think about it, because it could have ended so differently. If doing this can stop one person getting involved then it will be well worth it.”
Dwayne came close to joining rower James Cracknell and TV star Ben Fogle when they raced to the South Pole earlier this year.
After training in Plymouth with Mr Shillabeer, who holds the British record for the fastest 100km walk, he headed for a climate centre in Eastbourne to test himself in polar conditions.
“I’ve never done anything like this before so it’s going to be a real achievement,” he said. “I’m pretty fit anyway and I’ve done the Three Peaks Challenge – but this is a different ball game.”
University student Dwayne said he was inspired by black explorer Matthew Henson who, along with Robert Peary, claimed to be the first person to reach the North Pole 100 years ago.
Businesses and individuals willing to sponsor Dwayne please email your interest.