A man from Chiswick, who broke his spine after falling from a tree, has become the latest driver to join Team BRIT.
In September 2004, 37-year-old AJ Gani climbed a tree to help a little girl retrieve her lost kite. Tragically, he slipped and fell from the tree, breaking his T6 spinal vertebrae.
He was taken to hospital in an air ambulance, where his heart stopped three times, and doctors had to carry out an emergency tracheostomy to help him breathe. He spent three weeks in an induced coma and was given only a 2.5% chance of survival.
AJ beat the odds and survived, but needed extensive spinal surgery, with three metal rods and six screws inserted into his spine. He spent seven months in hospital and was then transferred to Stoke Mandeville for further rehabilitation.
AJ, who has a degree in IT, initially struggled to find work after his accident. He then began working in telesales, starting at the bottom of the company before moving up and buying shares in the business. He then opened his own financial training academy, through which he trained business advisors, and has since gone on to become a successful entrepreneur, owning a number of businesses in the UK and overseas.
Later this month AJ will also launch the ‘Wais Foundation’ a charity aimed at providing essential equipment such as wheelchairs to disabled people.
Earlier this year, AJ saw the Team BRIT Racing Academy advertised, offering track experiences and coaching for disabled drivers. He took part in a session at Silverstone in September, before attending a rookie assessment day at Brands Hatch. AJ was then invited to become a driver with the team and will compete in the GAZ shocks BMW 116 Trophy in 2020.
AJ has already had some success in competitive disability sport, coming third in the World Powerlifting Championships in Finland in 2010.
AJ said, “I’m really looking forward to getting started with Team BRIT. I’ll do anything to meet a challenge and am no stranger to reinventing myself, having done this after my accident and many times in business. This is an entirely new challenge for me and I’m excited to give it everything I can.
“I share many of the values of Team BRIT – I’m all about showing people who doubt me that I can succeed, and inspiring other people to see what’s possible. If I can do this, so can other people, and I hope my story will show people exactly that.
“For me, limitations are set by individuals themselves – we should all stop wishing and start doing, and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing when I get on the track with the team next year.”