THE father of a girl with a rare condition, together with 20 of his friends, set off on a gruelling cycle ride to Italy on Saturday to raise money for research into his daughter’s illness.
Luca Venditto, owner of The Italian Way, and his cohort are pedalling from Portsmouth (Pompey) to Pompeii, a distance of almost 1,500 miles, in aid of the Association for Glycogen Storage Disease UK (AGSD-UK).
His 10-year-old daughter Jodie suffers from the condition and Mr Venditto’s team are hoping to raise at least £75,000 for the charity.
Mr Venditto, of Clarendon Close, St Leonards, said: “The AGSD-UK provides support and help for individuals and families affected by GSD, a disease which causes perilous hypoglycaemic attacks, muscle pains and wasting.
“The aim of the challenge is to raise awareness of the fantastic work the charity does and as much money as possible so that we can help towards research into the best ways that families can help children who are suffering.
“We have been training and preparing since June last year.”
Glycogen is a form of glucose, which the body needs for energy and the disease damages muscles and nerve cells.
Eurovans Volkswagen Van Centre has lent the team a vehicle to store all of their food and provisions, as well as their bikes throughout the three-week trek.
Mr Venditto said: “We would like to thank Eurovans and all our sponsors that we have been able to turn this cycling challenge into a reality.”
John Hough, manager of Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, saw off the cyclists and donated £500 towards their cause.
The team’s progress can be followed by visiting their website at www.pompey2pompeii.org.uk.
Donations and messages of support can be made at www.virginmoneygiving.com/LucaVenditto.