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Bicyclist Will Go to the Ends of the Earth to Help San Marino Woman

A Former USC Classmate Will Ride 17,500 Miles From Alaska to Argentina for San Marino’s Natalie Fung, Who Suffered A Spinal Cord Injury In A Car Accident

With interest in extreme sports at an all-time high, the distances athletes must travel seems to have a limitless ceiling.

But a bicycle ride from Alaska to Argentina that will cover 17,500 miles? It makes more sense when one considers the cause.

Ian Andersen, a Minnesota native and 2014 graduate of USC, will hit the (extremely long) road next month to raise awareness and funds for those with spinal cord injuries, especially San Marino resident Natalie Fung, one of his best friends. The two were classmates at USC and just beginning their senior year in September 2013 when a cab in which Natalie was riding was struck by a drunk driver and she was paralyzed from the neck down. Even though he was studying abroad, Andersen caught the first plane to Los Angeles to be by Natalie’s side.

He’s had plenty of company. Fellow SMHS 2010 graduate Kelly Mar, at the time starting her senior year at Boston University, immediately returned to L.A. to assist Natalie. Mar also has gone to great lengths to display dedication to her friend, who she met in a physical education class at Huntington Middle School. The two cemented their friendship in the Titan Marching band. This past spring, Kelly ran the Boston Marathon and raised money for the National Spinal Cord Injury Assn. in Natalie’s honor.

“Natalie has the most amazing attitude,” said Kelly. “Even when I first visited her after the accident, I was shocked. She was always so easygoing and optimistic, but she has really shined since her injury. There is absolutely no self-pity. It’s incredible.”

Natalie is continuing her rehabilitation at Project Walk in Claremont. She has progressed from a motorized to a manual wheelchair.

“It’s amazing that she has gained so much strength,” said Kelly. “She is improving so much.”
Natalie works for Triumph Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is “to help individuals with spinal cord injuries to triumph over their disability and to inspire them to keep moving forward with their lives by pushing themselves to get better every day.” Natalie helps out with public relations, which was her major at USC.

And while Natalie continues her rehabilitation, Andersen will cross two continents in an effort to raise awareness to the situation. It runs in the family. His uncle, Bret, endured a similar ride in 1986, setting a Guinness World Record for longest continuous bike ride. Follow Andersen via Instagram @RideWithIan. You can also inquire about making a donation for this truly inspiring San Marino woman at GoFundMe, Ride With Ian.

Natalie is the daughter of Kirby and Bruce Fung. Her brother, Nathaniel, graduated from San Marino High School in June and will in September begin studying at the University of California, Riverside.


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