Manchester Arena survivor to take part in virtual hand-cycle for SIA
Martin Hibbert, a survivor of the Manchester Arena bomb attack, is joining the man who inspired him to rebuild his life in a virtual hand-cycling challenge to raise money for charity.
Martin and Gary Dawson – who first met when Martin was recovering following the May 2017 attack – had planned to cycle to Italy to raise funds for the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) before the coronavirus pandemic struck. Instead, the pair will now take part in a virtual cycle across Tuscany tomorrow (Thursday 14th May) from their living rooms, using hand-cycles mounted on turbo trainers.
The Manchester Arena terrorist attack left Martin paralysed and unable to walk after he suffered over 20 shrapnel wounds whilst protecting his daughter from the bomb blast. His injuries brought him into contact with Gary who, after being left paralysed himself in a motorbike accident, works with SIA to provide support to others with spinal cord injuries.
Martin said: “I met Gary on the day I was told I would never walk again. I quickly learnt from Gary that, despite having been told some devastating news, it didn’t stop be from leading a full life.
“To see Gary in a wheelchair and understanding that he was injured and has been through what I was going through, I decided that I didn’t want a wheelchair to determine what I was and was not going to do.
“Gary helped me, now I’m helping Gary. He supported me so much with my recovery after the explosion. It’s the least I can do.”
Gary takes part in annual overseas cycle rides to support those with spinal cord injuries and he said he was ‘gutted’ when Covid-19 meant this year’s Italy trip had to be cancelled.
“But then I thought I’ll do it from my living room,” he said. “People paralysed by spinal cord injury need our help now more than ever.
“Demand for the information, advice and support we offer has increased hugely and we’re keeping other injured people safe, well and out of hospital – saving lives and protecting the NHS.
“I am spinal cord injured myself and I therefore have an understanding of what Martin was going through. The progress he has made has been nothing short of remarkable.
“It’ll be great to have Martin as my cycling partner and we hope to raise plenty of money to help other spinal cord injured people stay safe from coronavirus.”
You can donate to Gary & Martin's JustGiving page here.
Both men sound like amazing individuals. An inspiring tale of facing a terrible tragedy head on and testing themselves to help others especially as we come up to the anniversary of the Arena bombing. All of us at PRD wish both of them the best of luck. This is a great example of what can be achieved following a spinal cord injury.
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