A mountain to climb
London surgeon, adventurer and fundraiser, Gus Alusi marked his 50th birthday in style last month, by trekking to Everest base camp in a bid to raise awareness for fragile X syndrome.
Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited form of intellectual disability, and the most common known genetic cause of autism spectrum disorders. It affects an estimated 15,000 people in the UK.
The Patrick Wild Centre for Research into Autism, Fragile X Syndrome and Intellectual Disabilities was established at the University in 2010 following donations from alumnus, Dr Alfred Wild and funds raised by Gus and Reem Alusi from a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro.
The couple’s son, Kenz has fragile X syndrome and through their continued fundraising efforts they hope to help researchers better understand the brain processes that underlie the learning disability and, in time, develop more effective treatments for it.
Money and awareness
Everest base camp is just the latest in a long line of global challenges that Gus, friends and family have completed to raise both money and awareness for fragile X syndrome.
Previous accomplishments include a rally drive across the Sahara from London to Timbuktu, the Mount Kilmanjaro trek and, closer to home, the 3 Peaks Challenge (summiting Ben Nevis, Scaffell Pike and Snowdon) in just 24 hours.
Trekking on Instagram
On this expedition Gus was joined by 4 friends who were not only up for the challenge, but eager to celebrate a landmark birthday with their team leader who turned 50 on the day that they arrived safely at base camp.
The team documented their journey through photos and videos taken on smart phones and then shared via Instagram.
Followers of Everest4X were able to share in the breathtaking scenery, dancing sherpas, apple crumble at 3900 feet, historic monasteries and encounters with mountain goats.
Climbing to Everest base camp with my friends may have been one of the hardest physical challenges for me to undertake, but the hope of achieving our goal of raising awareness of Fragile X Syndrome gave us the push to make it.
Dancing on YouTube
Ahead of leaving for Nepal, Gus and his wife Reem Waines were involved in more awareness-raising through social media, this time via a flashmob published on YouTube.
Joined by over 30 volunteers, they performed a specially choreographed dance at King’s Cross train station on a busy Friday evening. The flashmob coincided with European Fragile X Awareness Day (10th October or XX in roman numerals) and successfully prompted a raft of questions from commuters regarding fragile X.
The University of Edinburgh's support, over the past 7 years, has been unwavering. For that, we are all extremely grateful. I wish the team at the Patrick Wild Centre the best as they are the front line of our battle with fragile X syndrome and autism.
The Patrick Wild Centre brings together more than 50 research teams from across the University working together to better understand the causes of autism, fragile X and intellectual disabilities and aiming to develop and test new treatments for these.
If you would like to find out more about how you can support the Centre, please contact our Individual Giving Officer, Kerry Mackay.