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The longest ride…

Since 2005 I’ve been privileged to be part of an organisation called Distance For Difference (D4D). Through sports, our athletes raise funds for organisations working with children in need. D4D has a board of seven directors who responsibly consider applications for funding and then decide on the distribution of the funds being raised through our athletes. All this work is done pro bono.

D4D started as result of a question that kept returning to my mind after seeing the devastating scenes of the Asian tsunami of 26 December 2004. The question: “What can I do to make a difference to this world?” The answer: “Start running.” Through the years, other runners, swimmers and cyclists joined, and today, hundreds of them are making a difference through their sport and through D4D every year. During the past 10 years, we have raised and distributed more than R3.5 million. We are changing lives, and you can too.

One of D4D’s fundraising events is the bi-annual The 500. This year, the second running of the event was hosted at NH The Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West on 17 and 18 October. Fifteen extreme cyclists attempted to complete 500km on their bikes in 24 hours. This was by completing five 50km laps on the roads between Somerset West, Stellenbosch and Kuilsrivier during the day. The peloton of full 500km riders, traffic, ER24, and other support vehicles – plus the important support of riders who joined for one or more of the laps – moved together at an average speed of approximately 23km/h.

During the night, the proceedings moved towards the gravel roads at Paardevlei near Strand. At the same time, there was a 24-hour spinning marathon at the hotel, where corporate and community groups, as well as individual spinners, kept the vibe going under the watchful eyes of Virgin Active spinning instructors. Nine of the 15 cyclists who started the event managed to complete all 500km. We also had two very special individuals who managed to complete all 24×45min spinning sessions during the 24 hours. One of them was 65-year-old Gert de Villiers! The other was a young lady, Adri Marais, whose husband Divan, coincidentally, was one of the cyclists who managed to complete the full 500km ride.

The event was made possible by a wonderful bunch of people who all gave freely of their time and energy to organise and execute the event. It was an amazing privilege to experience how you can achieve so much more as a team than as an individual.

The objective of this event was twofold: to host a God-centred event that celebrates the power within us to overcome a challenge and to make a difference in the lives of children in need by raising R500 000 – just as we did the first time around in 2013.

The event is a community/team effort and not a race. It is about achieving more together than we ever could apart. For the 2015 event, half of the funds raised were channelled to Patch/Helderberg Child Abuse Centre and the rest to D4D for distribution to other children’s charities.

Patch aims to support all child victims of sexual abuse in the Helderberg and strives to prevent the incidence of this horrific crime committed against innocent children. Patch receives more than 500 reports of child sexual abuse in the Helderberg area each year.

So how did we do? The event was again blessed beyond all expectations as we managed to secure pledges in excess of R550 000!

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