A team of nine able-bodied runners, two hand cyclists and an amputee have set off on a 10-day relay journey from Cape Town to Pretoria to raise funds and awareness for people with spinal-cord injuries.
The team took to the road in Durbanville on Friday April 28 and will run 2 100km, passing through four provinces. The initiative by non-profit One Chance At Life Global (OCAL) wants to raise funds and also awareness of disabled people’s needs.
Sandile Mkhize was paralysed from the chest down at the age of 24 after a motorbike crash.
After spending more than two years in hospital, he is determined to make a difference in people’s lives, especially those who have or will go through the same trauma as he did.
“I personally haven’t pushed myself to explore new limits since my accident. This journey will do exactly that. In the process, we get to raise awareness about something that is very personal for me and raise money for a group of very deserving children,” he said.
The money they raise will help to build a new sports centre for the Tembaletu Learners with Special Needs School in Gugulethu.
Tembaletu was founded as a school for “differently abled” children in 1974. The school started, with five children and two teachers, as a daycare on the grounds of the Gugulethu day hospital and it has grown over the years to accommodate 200 students.
All the pupils have physical disabilities, with a range of causes, including: cerebral palsy, spina bifida, amputations, genetic syndromes, spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries. The school is one of four LSEN (Learners with Special Education Needs) schools in the Western Cape, offering mother-tongue instruction to Xhosa-speaking children.
OCAL Global’s founders, Nicolene Mostert and Alun Davies, say they prefer to use the term “differently abled” when describing people with disabilities because it “fosters thoughts, feelings and actions about disability in a more inclusive and positive way”.