Thursday 29 September 2016

Up to 800 cyclists gearing up for Irish charity race to raise funds for rare genetic disorder

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 05/05/2016 | 13:25

Barry Rice has organised a cycling event to raise awareness of, and funds to help those with the littleknown condition, Friedreich’s Ataxia
Copyright ©2015 Paul Sherwood Photography www.sherwood.ie CycleAtaxia 2015, Ashbourne, Co.Meath.

The Irish charity Cycle Ataxia is gearing up for its third annual fundraiser, which is expected to be its largest event yet.

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The charity race aims to raise funds towards finding a cure for Friedrich’s Ataxia, a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder that causes the progressive loss of muscle control and coordination.

Part of the funds raised are also donated to patient care, along with adaptive cycling equipment for ataxia sufferers.

Cycle Ataxia was established by Barry Rice (35), a father-of-two who was diagnosed with the condition in 2013.

Barry Rice has organised a cycling event to raise awareness of, and funds to help those with the littleknown condition, Friedreich’s Ataxia
Barry Rice has organised a cycling event to raise awareness of, and funds to help those with the littleknown condition, Friedreich’s Ataxia

Following his diagnosis, the Dubliner eagerly researched other sufferers and learned about a specially designed recumbent tricycle, worth €3,000, which would allow him to cycle again.

Read More: Dublin man with rare disorder thanks man who enabled safe return of specialised bike through 'tug-of-war' with gang of youths

In 2014, he was gifted the bike by Friedrich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) for his efforts in raising awareness and funds for ataxia research.

This year’s Cycle Ataxia event will take place in Ashbourne, Co Meath, on June 18, and is open to participants of all levels of ability with courses ranging from 13km to 110km.

At the inaugural event in 2014, 275 cyclists took part. That number rose to 517 last year, and is expected to welcome up to 800 cyclists this year.

“Early registrations are far higher than in previous years, and it’s exciting to see the event growing at such a rate,” Mr Rice said of the increased interest.

The event is hosted by two cycling clubs, the Ratoath Wheelers and the AshBurners, who will work together to accommodate the large numbers.

Read More: Fears of public backlash against charity as Lance Armstrong promotes Cycle Ataxia

Cycle Ataxia came to public attention last year when Lance Armstrong was photographed wearing a t-shirt in support of the event.

The disgraced Tour de France winner stirred controversy as organisers worried his reputation would damage the charity fundraiser.

However, Mr Rice was delighted to be proved wrong when over 500 cyclists joined the 2015 race, including participants who had travelled from the States.

For those interested in getting involved in next month's event, registration for the event is now open at www.cycleataxia.ie.

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