Oct 30 2012 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
A CYCLIST has ridden down the east coast of the United States to demonstrate how his incurable spinal arthritis condition is no longer holding him back.
Tariq Gangari, 25, of Theobald Crescent, Harrow, spent six weeks in the saddle for his Boston2Miami fundraiser, riding 2,200 miles from Massachusetts to Florida and arriving on October 8.
His mission was to publicise the condition ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and to show how he is overcoming it.
The former Hatch End High School pupil, who has suffered debilitating inflammation symptoms from the age of 14 but was only diagnosed eight years later, said: “As I approached Ocean Drive on South Beach, Miami, Florida, my last destination, I felt numb and void of any real definitive emotions.
“It wasn’t until I got talking to a lifeguard on the beach when I realised exactly where I was and what I had done.
“The previous year I would struggle to climb out of bed, I could barely climb into the bath to have a shower and putting my socks on in the morning would be one of the biggest chores of my day.
“A year later and I was cycling the eastern seaboard of America solo with just one bag of luggage. It’s been an emotional experience as much as it’s been physical.”
Mr Gangari, a sales assistant at Marks & Spencer in Bishops Walk, High Street, Pinner, undertook the challenge as part of his iamONE.org.uk campaign which was born from the website and blog he established in March to help fellow sufferers.
He said: “In terms of raising awareness of AS, I made it my goal to tell at least one person at every hotel I stayed in and every restaurant I ate at about what I was doing and what it was for. Since coming to the USA, my social network following has doubled and my iamONE wristbands have sold out.
“I have also received numerous messages thanking me for what I am doing and telling me how much I have encouraged people living with AS to live a more active lifestyle.”
Mr Gangari is currently enjoying a rest in Jacksonville, Florida, before planning a campaign project for 2013.
n See www.iamONE.org.uk for Tariq Gangari’s blog and campaign about ankylosing spondylitis.