Charles Brice: Wheel To Walk aims for $100,000

Can a young man and his handcycle raise $100,000 for spinal cord research?

Charles Brice and his supporters certainly hope Wheel To Walk will do just that on October 16-19.

Charles, a former Naracoorte resident who became a quadriplegic in a motorcycle accident at Paruna in 2010, is aiming to push his handcycle 300km from Paruna to Adelaide in October to raise the huge sum for Wings for Life.

His friend Sarah Arnold, who came up with the idea, said the event was the culmination of years of thinking and talking about ways they could help find a cure for spinal cord injury.

"When the accident happened, I hadn't really known anyone who had been in that situation, and from day one something inside me said that I needed to do something," she said.

"I thought the original momentum with the fundraising and the hype would die down and he would still be there needing support.

"I'd always thought I'd leave it a few years and do something, and this is where we're at."

When Charles told her a couple of years ago about his desire to buy a modified car, Sarah thought it was finally time for her to share her idea. She told him she wanted to walk from Paruna to Naracoorte to raise money for it.

"When I told him, he laughed like Bricey does, firstly because he thought I was an idiot for holding onto my idea for six years, but he said 'You're not going to do it for me'.

"He said: 'Let's do this big'."

They decided to address the wider issue of helping people to walk again, and specifically decided on the Wings for Life spinal cord research foundation.

With Charles wanting to take part himself, it was decided to get a group of about 30 riders together to accompany him on his handcycle, and follow the route that Charles took immediately after his accident.

The Wheel To Walk ride will start at Paruna where the accident occurred, move to Loxton where he was taken by ambulance, then finish up in Adelaide where he was hospitalised (with stopovers in Swan Reach and Tanunda along the bike route).

The event has only just been launched, but has been two years in the planning, including sourcing sponsors and supporters, logistics of routes and finding Charles a suitable handcycle.

Much of that is now in place, including the handcycle, however there have been setbacks including a recent thumb operation which saw Charles unable to train for seven weeks.

He's now back in the saddle and gradually working his way up to longer training distances as well as going to gym regularly and accessing support from the SA Sports Institute.

Charles said while his longest training ride to this point was about 30km, and he'd have to tackle distances of up to 100km a day on the actual ride, he was determined to do it.

"I've got a fair bit of training in front of me," he chuckled. "It'll be hard, but I'll just break it down to one day at a time, break up each day into two hour blocks and get a decent recovery each time.

"It'll be a challenge, but it will be good to have a lot of other people around me spurring me on. I've got to think about why I'm doing it too, there's a lot of people worse off than me."

To find out more about the event or pledge support, find Wheel To Walk on Facebook or Instagram, or email wheeltowalkaus@gmail.com.