UPVC roofline manufacturer support 50 mile recumbent trike race

A UPVC building product manufacturer is leading the way in supporting a young man with a rare, genetic disorder who will be tackling the biggest ride of his life and on three wheels.

Kestrel is now calling on other businesses to back Barry Rice, who was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia in January this year.

Friedreich's Ataxia is a neurodegenerative, multi-system, life-shortening disorder; with symptoms including muscle weakness and loss of coordination, vision impairment, hearing loss and slurred speech.

Symptoms of the disorder, which affects one in 50,000 people, usually occur between the ages of five and 15, with sufferers using a wheelchair by the time they hit 20.

But Friedreich’s Ataxia has affected Barry, who received the news by letter earlier this year, differently.

“I didn’t start with any symptoms until I was a teenager,” said the 33 year-old, who lives in Dublin.

“It was mild and gradual, I was a bit clumsy but dismissed it as normal, it wasn’t until last year when my speech started to become affected that I was tested for FA; which had previously become discounted as I had only one symptom of the balance and shown no other symptoms.”

Barry is now unable to run and finds it difficult to walk, but is ‘thankful’ he is still able to drive.

“I have a wheelchair on order now, as I have a 10-month-old daughter so I don’t want to miss out on days out with her, so I will keep it in the boot and if I need it it’s there.”

After being diagnosed with the disorder, Barry admits to ‘Googling’ Friedreich’s Ataxia and was ‘scared’ by what he found, including the average life expectancy – which is 32.

“I’m 33 now, so it was scary to read,” said Barry.

“Whilst on Google, I discovered Ride Ataxia and Kyle Bryant who is a fellow sufferer of FA and founder of Ride Ataxia.

“Inspired by that I went out and bought myself a recumbent trike, which is a three wheeled bike, one wheel at the back and two at the front and you’re almost sitting on the ground with your feet out in front of you.”

 Barry is now busy training for the ride, set up by the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance, there will be six events taking place across the USA, with Barry enrolled in Orlando.

 Barry will be joined by nine members of his family on the ride, taking part in the longest event – an extremely challenging 50 miles.

 “I felt compelled to raise funds and awareness, to aid their ongoing research,” said Barry.

 “The race is open to anyone, most will be abled bodies who will be riding bikes.

 “I’m one of the lucky ones, I seem to have a milder form of FA.

 “Most people with this condition couldn’t ride a bike, I can – so I am.”

 Simon Reynolds, marketing director of Kestrel said: “We are humbled by Barry and his determination to raise money for such a worthwhile cause.

 “We are very proud to support him in this ride, good luck Barry.”

 Touched by how much awareness Ride Ataxia raises, Barry is now in the progress of organising Ireland’s very first ride to be held next summer, and every year after.

 To sponsor Barry visit https://www.facebook.com/shutterco.ie and follow the link to Barry’s sponsor page.

 A sound file of Barry being interviewed about his condition can be found on YouTube, by searching 'Barry Rice RTE'.