Teenagers get a chance to compete in cycle race for cancer

Warming up for the big race, Tashreeq Garrett and Delano Timm.

Fifteen teenagers from one of the city’s toughest neighbourhoods will have a shot at conquering one of the world’s toughest cycle races, thanks to sponsorship from a Diep River cancer foundation.

Alan Jansen, co-founder of Aris Cancer Foundation, says half of the 30 cyclists doing the Cape Town Cycle Tour this year in the foundation’s jersey will be from Lansdowne-based Groenvlei High

Founded in 2012, the non-profit is run by 12 people who have been inspired by Ariana (Ari) Jansen who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008 at the age of 22.

It was not until 2011, when Ari lost her battle with cancer, that her parents, Zelda and Alan Jansen, found a design she had done with the words “live, laugh, love” surrounded by stars and hearts.

Using this as its emblem, they founded Ari’s Cancer Foundation.

“The goal is to help adolescents and young adults who are fighting cancer, the most neglected cancer group,” said Mr Jansen.

The Bulletin caught up with some of the Groenvlei Grade 12 pupils as they trained for the Cycle Tour at Virgin Active in Constantia last week.

Coming from Hanover Park where they regularly have to dodge gangsters’ bullets, the gym in one of Cape Town’s wealthiest suburbs was like another world for them, and
their eyes sparkled at the prospect of training in spinning classes and on treadmills and exercise bikes.

Jade Mashabe and Garth Gunn are excited about doing their first Cycle Tour and fitting in training in their first spinning class.

“It’s going to be painful but it’s for a good cause,” said Jade. “We’re targeted by gangsters who want us to do stuff for them or to join their gang. Our parents won’t let us go out because of random, unpredictable shootings.”

Garth said he knew of many people in his community who were battling cancer. “My grandmother has cancer in her left lung and lies in bed all day.”

He said the race was a good way to show cancer patients there were people supporting them.

They do not have their own bikes, but they train at school for 30 minutes each day. Because it is too dangerous to cycle where they live they travel to Wynberg or Muizenberg to do long rides.

Groenvlei deputy principal, Godfrey Hendrickse, said apart from the threats posed by gangsters and stray bullets, many of the school’s
pupils lived in two-room flats with little space to study.

The pupils riding in the Cycle Tour are part of a school leadership project.

“They are encouraged to do well academically to stay in the programme,” Mr Hendrickse

Virgin Active spokeswoman, Carla White, said they were supporting 10 of the 15 Groenvlei High cyclists and had donated spin bikes and equipment to them.

“We’ve provided the team with an opportunity to train at Virgin Active Constantia in our spin classes to help them prepare,” she said.

To sponsor a development rider or runner with bicycles, shorts, running shoes, helmets and other equipment, contact Zelda Jansen at cbbzel@mweb.co.za, or contact Groenvlei High School at 021 703 2227.