Amputee cyclist Helgard Muller will fulfil his dream of motivating and inspiring others by cycling 6 000 km on a road bike (and his mountain bike for the rough terrain) along the border of South Africa. He aims to raise R500 000 for persons with disabilities on the way.
To his knowledge, he will be the first person with only one leg to do such a journey. He kicks off from Cape Town a few days before Casual Day, which is on Friday 6 September. On Monday 2 September, when he sets course for the Northern Cape, he will be wearing his Casual Day golf-shirt, cap and sticker, thereby raising awareness around persons with disabilities. The people of Vredendal and Springbok are already preparing for his arrival!
“I hope raise awareness and funds for the Casual Day campaign. I am riding to inspire communities all over the country to support Casual Day efforts to assist the many persons with disabilities who can’t afford to buy the right equipment for their needs,” says Helgard.
Helgard had his foot amputated after an agricultural accident in the US. “The road to recovery was a long and painful process, and all I could see was the things that I loved doing – being active, enjoying the outdoors and travelling – disappearing from my life.” He has already had several different prostheses, which each cost in the region of R100 000. “Assistive devices for persons with disabilities cost a small fortune and I want South Africans to be aware of the issues that face persons with disabilities.”
However, the experience of losing a leg has changed him forever. “Before my accident, I was always in the background and had no voice. Now, I am a changed man, I am fighter, a high flier in life and I believe I can overcome anything that comes my way. I am now far more active and involved in sport than I was before the accident. When asked what my biggest fear for this trip, I can honestly say that I have no fears because life has taught me to have no fear – just live and let live.”
He will head north to Oranjemund in Namibia, travelling through the West Coast and the Karoo. He will travel along the Orange River on the Namibian side of the border and re-enter South Africa at Upington. His route then takes him to Mafiken, then to Musina, Louis Trichardt, Nelspruit, Richards Bay and Durban before heading back along the eastern coastline to Cape Town. He believes the trip will take six weeks to two months. His wife, Hanlie, is cycling along and a friend is going along for the adventure and to drive the support vehicle.
They will keep their fans updated daily so log onto www.helgardmuller.com and click through to his Facebook page. “I will be spreading my message of hope along the way, and encouraging other amputees (actually anyone) to believe in themselves and that they can do anything if they set their mind to it. No matter how big the challenge or what your history is, you can change your situation by doing something big to inspire others. And what better way to express yourself than in a sport you love? I got myself a mountain bike, which I proudly cycle everywhere, and it worked for me!”
He says, “Go big and wear your sticker. Wear big hair, big glasses, a big tie, big shoes, or just go big on the number of stickers you wear, and remember, your R10 raises funds for persons with disabilities.”
Casual Day is a project owned by the National Council of Persons with Physical Disabilities and is run in partnership with its national beneficiaries, SA National Council for the Blind, Disabled People South (DPSA), SA Federation for Mental Health, Deaf Federation of SA (DeafSA), Epilepsy SA, Autism South Africa (ASA), Down Syndrome South Africa, The National Association for Persons with Cerebral Palsy (NAPCP), the South African National Deaf Association (SANDA), the National Institute for the Deaf (NID), QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA), Alzheimer’s South Africa and the South African Disability Alliance (SADA).
Casual Day stickers, caps and shirts are available through the new beneficiaries. Stickers are available at all Edcon stores, which include the following brands: Edgars, Jet, JetMart, Boardmans, CNA, Red Square and LEGIT. Stickers are also available at Absa, Game and DionWired stores, Checkers, Checkers Hyper or any of the participating beneficiary organisations (for full list see www.casualday.co.za).
Contact numbers for the Casual Day office in Edenvale.
Tel: 011 609 7006 Fax: 011 452 6583