Get Back On Your Bike, Rich

On Thursday 11 October 2012, the lives of Richard Holland and his family changed forever. Whilst training for an Ironman Race, avid cyclist and triathlete Rich was hit from behind by a car and sustained multiple life-threatening injuries, including a severe injury to his brain stem.

Rich’s condition is now stable but he remains in a state of very low consciousness (semi coma); and sadly 3 months later he is still unable to move his body at all. He currently communicates through blinking his left eye for YES/NO, but is otherwise unable to communicate or respond at all. Rich therefore requires intensive medical supervision to care for him round the clock, including tube feeding through a PEG tube into his stomach.

Rich’s prognosis is very unclear at this stage and he faces an unknown hospitalisation and recovery period, possibly a lifetime. After a severe brain injury to the brain stem (which controls motor function) it is only possible to guess at the recovery time and the likely outcome. All that is certain is that recovery is a slow process and Rich faces the longest challenge and fight of his life.

Due to the nature of his injury, and the potential need for lifetime care, an independent trust BackOnYourBike has been set up, controlled by RMB Private Bank, to help his family raise funds for his recovery, neuro-rehabilitation and funds to support Rich for the rest of his life. RMB Private Bank will act as trustees and administer any donations or contributions made by members of the public to support Richard.

Back On Your Bike’s goal ( is to raise awareness for Rich, Cycle Safety and funds to cover his mounting medical expenses and rehabilitation for the future. As Rich has been living in Dubai for the last few years, he has no medical aid cover in South Africa. This means that all his medical costs, rehabilitation and treatment have to be privately funded. This is where donations, fundraising and support from the public have helped. $100,000 has already been raised for Rich!

Reachable fundraising goals have been set for the various stages of Rich’s recovery. The first fundraising target of $150,000 will cover the most pressing medical expenses and those of the next few months. These targets will be increased as the family learn more about the Rich’s recovery process.

Given the uncertainty of the recovery period, the total fundraising target is set at US $1,700,000. This amount has been estimated based on the first 11 weeks’ treatment, the multiple surgeries he has already undergone as well as future scheduled procedures, physiotherapy (neuro and physical) and the projected amount of rehabilitation treatment required in the long term. This amount was validated using information from the DANA Foundation which calculates the lifetime expense of a coma patient between US$600,000 and US $1,875,000.

The road to recovery will the toughest challenge Rich has ever faced. We all know him as a young man in the prime of his life; a fighter of fierce courage and steely determination. We believe that with love, care and support, Rich will get back on his bike and continue to live his life doing the things he loves so much.

Safety Precautions & Rich’s injury

Rich is pedantic about safety at the best of times and his bicycle is fitted with lights (front and rear) and reflective bands. He is well-known amongst his peers for adhering to safety rules, and reprimanding other cyclists for not being cautious at all times. On the day of the accident, Rich was wearing his top of the range cycling helmet, had reflective bands on his clothing and ankles, and his bicycle lights were on.

Despite this, Rich was hit from behind by a car, sustaining multiple life-threatening injuries. These included: broken ribs, punctured lungs, a fractured sternum, fractured right fibula, and severe injuries to his brain. His brain injuries are substantial, the worst of which is a contusion on his brain stem which caused an immediate coma. He was in an induced coma for 7 days, and has remained in his own semi-coma since then.

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