Monday, February 12, 2007

Visually impaired cyclist to participate to cyclist challenge

Visually impaired, blind and normal-vision cyclists will take to the road on Friday morning for a cycling challenge to raise money for research into retina degeneration and hereditary eye diseases.

In conjunction with Foresight, the Emirates Association of the Blind and Tamkeen, the coast to coast challenge is sponsored by Emirates Bank and Wolfie's Bike Shop and will start at the Meridien Mina Siyahi hotel and finish at the Meridien Al Aqah hotel in Fujairah.

No statistics on the number of blind or visually impaired people in the UAE currently exist, said Sally Prosser from Foresight - a UAE-based non-profit organisation. "Statistics are lacking on this, but we do know that a lot of people are visually impaired," she said.
Verge of cure

Catherine Fasser from Retina International, based in Switzerland, which is looking for a cure for retina pigmentosa, came especially to the UAE to take part in the cycling challenge.

"A lot of research is going on and we are on the verge of finding a cure. Just a 10 per cent slowdown would give people ten more years of sight," said Fasser.

Three special tandem bikes have been brought from Germany to accommodate the visually impaired cyclists.

Between 15 and 20 normal-vision cyclists on standard racing bikes will also take part, led by Wolfgang Hohmann from Wolfie's Bike Shop.

The team aims to complete the journey in 7 to 9 hours.

Katie Newitt, chairwoman of Foresight, a branch of Tamkeen and lobbies to improve the lives of people who are visually impaired and blind in the UAE, said she was looking forward to riding a bike again.


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