Teen embarks on 2-month-long bike ride to bring awareness to rar - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Teen embarks on 2-month-long bike ride to bring awareness to rare condition

Big Island triathlete Gabriel Low can't outrun a disease that affects 1 in 100,000 people. (Image: Gabriel Low) Big Island triathlete Gabriel Low can't outrun a disease that affects 1 in 100,000 people. (Image: Gabriel Low)
SEATTLE, WASH. (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Big Island triathlete Gabriel Low can't outrun a disease that affects 1 in 100,000 people.

The 17-year-old Waiakea High School graduate has it, too.

"I have a rare genetic medical condition called hypokalemic periodic paralysis," he said.

The illness attacks the body's potassium levels and causes severe bouts of muscle weakness 

At its worst it can cause extreme paralysis.

"People end up in wheelchairs not able to walk at all," Low said.

He was diagnosed when he was a child.

Medication stabilizes his condition, but in March during a triathlon in Waikoloa he suffered a major attack.

"The last kilometer of the 10K I must have been running on all adrenalin because I came over the finish line and I collapsed. I wasn't able to move, to talk. I could barely stand up," he said.

It was a wake-up call. 

He decided to draw attention to his condition to hopefully benefit others. Next week, Low begins a 3,000-mile cross-country bicycle ride.

"I'll be riding from Seattle, Wash., all the way to Cleveland, Ohio," he said.

He will pedal across 13 states.

A pharmaceutical company's providing the bicycle, lodging, and interview opportunities where he'll call for more funding and research for rare diseases.

"I've never done anything this big. I'm not scared of it. I'm ready to go," he said.

The cross country trek is also a tribute to his mother, Emily. She suffers from the same illness.

Riding 90 miles a day with rest days built in, Low estimates it will take about two months to reach the finish line.

"In Cleveland I will be participating in the 2018 USA Triathlon National Championships, where hopefully I'll be able to qualify for Team USA and go on to the Worlds," he said.

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