Matthew’s ready to ride for Special Olympics bound Chris

Tina Cook  f
Tina Cook f
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A visually-impaired basketball player is getting on his bike to help his teammate achieve his dream of competing at the Special Olympics in Los Angeles.

Matthew Vanne, 20, is set to cycle from Greetham to Oakham in a bid to raise funds for his friend Chris Southwell’s once in a lifetime trip to the US after he was selected to play for Great Britain in next year’s games.

Chris, 21, needs to raise £2,500 for the journey in May, to pay for flights, accommodation and playing kit, and Matthew is hoping for all the support he can get for the ride this Saturday to help his Rutland Conquerors on his way.

Matthew, who lives in Stretton Road, Greetham, suffers from a rare genetic illness that has slowly taken his sight since the age of eight. He can now only differentiate between bright sunshine and total darkness.

Matthew said: “Chris is like my big brother and I want to help him raise his money.

“I used to love riding my bike. I’m so excited and I’ll try very hard.”

Chris, who shoots hoops for Rutland Conquerors and Leicester Demons, impressed the judges during a trial in Sheffield in March to claim his place in the squad of 10. He was the only player in the East Midlands to be selected for the trip.

The highlight of his career so far is playing for Great Britain at the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens. Despite coming down with food poisoning, he helped the team claim third place.

Saturday’s ride starts at the former Greetham Garden Centre at 10.30am.

Rutland Cycling has kindly offered a specially-adapted tricycle that Matthew will be using. His sister Faith, 18, and Chris will take it in turns to steer from the back seat. Friend Charley Rippon will also be a support rider on the day.

The ride will finish in outside Furleys in Market Place, Oakham.

Sponsorship forms are available from Greetham Village Shop and the Lodge Trust in Market Overton.