NAPLES, Italy — A violent thunderstorm Tuesday and one rider’s minor injuries in a traffic accident only slightly delayed a group of 11 British cyclists who continued Wednesday on a fundraising trek through several European countries.

Royal Navy sailors with the 771st Naval Air Squadron, based in Cornwall, England, are midway through a trip that began May 29 on their home soil, and has taken them through France, an arduous climb across the Alps, and now into Italy.

Their mission is to raise money for a colleague’s 5-year-old daughter, Lydia Cross, whose legs were amputated following a bout with meningitis, team leader Andy Usher said.

“We want to help the family buy the best prosthetic legs that are available on the market,” Usher said as team members loaded a van Wednesday morning after camping Tuesday night at the U.S. Navy’s recreational facility in Carney Park, just outside Naples.

“Her father wants her to have the best. After all, it’s not her fault she got meningitis.”

That desire comes with a hefty price tag: about $12,000 a pair, Usher said, converting the cost from British pounds into U.S. dollars. And because Lydia is a growing girl, she’ll need two or three sets over the course of the next couple of years. More information about the girl is posted on the Web site

So far, the cyclists have raised about $30,000, of which two-thirds will be given to the Cross family, Usher said. The rest will go to the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association. The organization provides care to British servicemembers — both men and women — and their families who have lost the use of their limbs or their eyes as a result of military service.

Tuesday, while in Formia, about an hour’s drive north of Naples, Chic Pritchard was injured in a collision with a Fiat Panda that had cut in front of him as he traveled at 17 mph — an impact that sent him tumbling and even cracked his helmet. He suffered no broken bones, but was pretty bruised up and sore on Wednesday.

“The likely spot that took most of the impact was my buttocks,” Pritchard joked.

The accident prompted the group to take a van from Naples to the Amalfi Coast, where they planned to pick up their typical 100-miles-a-day pace.

Their journey will end Friday when they pull into the U.S. Navy base in Sigonella, Sicily.

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