#QhubekaActivists: Ari Miltiadou

We love profiling our awesome #QhubekaActivists – people who have signed up to raise funds for Qhubeka in a range of different ways. If you’ve raised funds for us and would like your story shared here, please email wendy@qhubeka.org. If you’d like to find out about how you can fundraise for Qhubeka, check out our Fundraising Page.

Ari Miltiadou suffered a head injury in 2014 and was in a coma for a week. When he began to recover, he decided to take on a personal quest – to ride 10 000km in a year and to raise funds for Qhubeka. He has succeeded at both. Here is his amazing story:

“I suffered a head injury early last year and found myself in a coma for a week. This happened a few weeks before I was set to race Sani2C. Luckily I was in “great” shape at the time which saw me being discharged earlier than most people in my condition. It goes without saying that the love and support I received from my family and friends was the real reason for this.

“When I got home it really dawned upon me that my life had changed. I wasn’t the same person and I felt drained and sick most of the time even though I hid it well. I was on some serious meds which included anti-seizure pills and some strong pain tabs. All of this about a month before my precious Ava was born. Things were really not going well and I honestly thought that I would be never be normal again.

“Doc said that training would be risky and that I could have permanent brain damage if I were to suffer a blow within a year of the injury. In an attempt to try regain some sort of normality, my wife bought me an indoor trainer so I could try get back on the bike without risking serious injury due to lack of balance. This was just the start of it, the more rides I did the stronger I felt. It wasn’t long before I was back on the road and single track, it was all in baby steps but soon I was feeling a lot better physically. The birth of Ava just motivated me to get better as quick as possible. Towards the end of the year I set myself a goal to complete 10 000km in 2015, at the time it seemed like a HUGE goal and many had told me that I was crazy. I had broken it down to needing 200km a week for 50 weeks leaving 2 weeks in the year for holiday and illness.

“I set weekly and monthly goals for each and every week of the year and I haven’t missed one yet. By May I realised that I was ahead of schedule but winter was coming and I didn’t know how the training would be during those months. This made me increase my goals to compensate for when it really gets cold. I survived winter and I was progressing nicely with my goal.

“This morning I woke up sitting on 9909km for the year, just 91km short of my goal. I started my ride off as per normal thinking that it was the same as any other ride and that I would do 50km now and the balance on my next ride. Luckily it was a solo ride so it was just me and my thoughts. That is when I realised that even though the actual completion of 10 000km is small in comparison to what other people are achieving, it was huge to me when I set the goal. I had to remind myself of the place I was in before I had set the goal and how the cycling had aided my recovery. So I changed my route and made sure I found my 91kms.

“Today I am still not 100% in many ways but I feel 120% better in other ways. I have so much to be grateful for especially our little Ava and my amazing wife Magda. I have also shared many of these kilometers with some really great people including Richard Griffin, Ulrich Roux , George Miltiadou, Clinton De Klerk, Sampras De Wet, Dwaine Brooks, Vince Alomia and Jonathan Bown, just to mention a few. You guys all made the kilometres seem easier than what they actually were.

“Knowing what this goal has meant to me and my recovery it would be wrong for me not to have a positive spin off from this. The bicycle was but a means to my recovery. I believe that other people could be in a similar situation, needing a distraction to help them get over something in their lives or maybe just needing a form of transport. I would like to appeal to all my friends, close or purely by acquaintance to please help raise funds to provide other people with the same opportunity. I would like us to raise R12 000 to cover the cost of 5 Qhubeka bicycles.

“Your contribution towards this financially or just by sharing is greatly appreciated.”

To support Ari, visit his fundraising page and make a donation or leave a comment.