Benefit for injured Knight Troy Miles raises thousands as former footballer vows to keep fighting

IT was a simple moment – but it spoke volumes of the recent tragedies that have united Newcastle's rugby league fraternity.

Three men of league – Alex McKinnon, Damian Jobson and Troy Miles – together in the same room, trading stories, with familiarity.

When nothing is familiar, a benefit night in support of Troy Miles was told, there's nothing better than close company.

Hundreds packed Belmont 16ft Sailing Club on Saturday as the community dug deep in support of the Miles family, who have struggled financially in the wake of a life-changing accident that produced disastrous outcomes.

Miles, a former Newcastle Knight who was part of the history-making 1995 reserve grade premiership team, was rendered a quadriplegic after breaking his neck in a motorbike crash in South Australia last year.

With specialists still unable to help him, the father-of-three's condition has deteriorated to the extent his hypersensitivity rarely allows him to leave his room, while merely touching him can trigger a severe seizure.

The footballer received a standing ovation and rock star reception as he arrived for the event surrounded by wife Nicole and the couple’s sons Bailey, Toby and Zac.

He told the Newcastle Herald he cherished being out of hospital and home for a day.

"It's an awesome feeling, especially when so many people turn up," he said.

"It's overwhelming, there's a lot of emotion, I can tell you."

Miles took short breaks throughout the night but still made himself available to the stream of people who wanted to wish him well. 

He said while he was in battle of his life, it was his wife and three sons who drove him to keep fighting.

"I don't know how else I'd get through it," Miles said.

"There's always someone else who's worse than I am, I always say that, and I learnt that at a young age.

"You've just got to keep smiling."

Asked what it would be like to come home for good, Miles replied: "Words can't describe."

Nicole Miles said it felt incredible to be home and surrounded by those who cared.

"I just didn't know, or understand, there could be so much compassion for another person," she said.

Running for Miles committee member Brendan Walsh said fundraising efforts for the family had surpassed $120,000.

Alex McKinnon at the Running for Miles benefit night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Alex McKinnon at the Running for Miles benefit night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Don’t forget: McKinnon

ALEX McKinnon says the best thing people can do to help those with permanent injuries is to not forget them.

McKinnon, who became a quadriplegic in 2014 after an illegal tackle on him while playing for the Knights, admitted to saying "why me, why me, why me" numerous times after being paralysed, but said he eventually learnt to accept it and move on.

"Just because I'm in a wheelchair doesn't mean I can't do things," he told an audience at the Running for Miles benefit night on Saturday. "You just need to change your mindset a bit."

McKinnon earlier this month quit his off-field role with the Knights and is set to turn his attention to public speaking. He has also reportedly launched legal proceedings against the National Rugby League.

McKinnon said his transition to a new life was made better by the support of others.

“The best thing is not the support now, but the support in five years’ time, 10 years’ time, 20 years’ time,” he said.

“It needs to be ongoing.”