x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Orange for Holland: friends campaign in Abu Dhabi for crash victim

Richard Holland was left in a vegetative state after being hit by a car while training for a triathlon.

Keep an eye out for the women in orange wigs when you go down to the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon tomorrow.

They are part of a group of 20 friends and colleagues who will be racing and campaigning to raise funds for Richard Holland.

During triathlon training last October, Mr Holland was peddling from his home in Motor City to the Al Qudra Road cycle track when he was hit by a car.

The impact of the crash left the 30-year-old in a vegetative state and he was repatriated to South Africa last month to continue his recovery.

Sam Whittam, friend of Mr Holland’s and general manager of Adventure HQ, said he was suffering from “locked-in syndrome”.

“He can see and hear everything but can’t respond. It’s really a hard thing,” said Mr Whittam.

Locked-in Syndrome, also known as cerebromedullospinal disconnection, is a state of complete-paralysis in which the victim is completely aware of his surrounding but unable to communicate.

The syndrome is the subject of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a French biopic that tells the real-life story of Jean-Dominique Bauby who eventually learnt to communicate through blinking.

To honour their fallen friend at Saturday’s race, some of Mr Holland’s friends will race with orange visors and T-shirts with the words “Back on Your Bike, People” – encapsulating Mr Holland’s never-surrender attitude.

Mr Holland competed in last year’s triathlon and finished the short course (1.5km swim, 100km bike and a 10km run) in the impressive time of 4 hours and 20 minutes.

Other friends will wear orange wigs and will circulate through the spectators selling orange wrists bands to raise money for Mr Holland’s treatment.

If you can’t find the wigged ladies, you can also visit the 2XU stand to buy a band.

Mr Whittam has already managed to raise Dh10,000 but says more is needed to ensure Mr Holland gets the equipment he needs and can move into an appropriate home.

eharnan@thenational.ae