FRIENDS of a mountain biker left paralysed from the waist down following an accident are taking part in the 25th Great South Run to buy him a specially-adapted sports bike.
A year ago Darren Foley, 45, (pictured), crashed into a tree and severed his spine while out cycling with friends.
He spent five months in hospital and cannot move from the waist down.
But the keen runner and extreme sportsman is determined to keep on the move.
A prototype bike for disabled people is being developed in Wales by Project Enduro and a group of Mr Foley’s friends are attempting to raise £10,000 to buy one of the first ones the market for him.
He said: ‘I’m so chuffed that they are doing this.
‘I knew they were all doing the run but at first I had no idea they were doing it for me.
‘Although I was a runner myself I never did the Great South Run.
‘It’s going to be tough going for them. They’ve had to give up smoking and partying to do it.
‘But I will be there on the day cheering them on.’
Mr Foley, a married father-of-two from Leigh Park, was in Stoughton, at the back of Kingley Vale, when the accident happened.
He said: ‘I crashed into a tree and fell badly.
‘I didn’t even get knocked out though.
‘I was conscious and I knew I had done something bad straight away because I couldn’t move.
‘I knew I had broken my back – luckily enough my friends were with me.
‘I ended up getting an air ambulance to Southampton General Hospital and then went to Salisbury Hospital for rehabilitation for five months.’
Mr Foley has had to give up his job at Eaton Aerospace since the accident but he remains resolutely positive.
Claude Lowe is running with her brother Gee Olford and friends Suzi and Lee Wilson and Pete Langworthy.
Claude said: ‘I did the run with my brother 16 years ago, but haven’t done it since.
‘I’m not great at running, but this is something we all want to do for Darren.
‘Since his accident he hasn’t been able to get out like he used to.
‘Getting this bike will help in a big way to be outdoors.’
The race takes place on October 26, and will be broadcast live on Channel 5.
Darren’s friends are currently setting up a website, which will allow people to donate money.