Youth cycle for cancer

The cyclists outside a Constantia gym.

Twenty-one high school pupils are preparing for an eight-day 450km cycling tour to raise funds for a Plumstead cancer charity.

The pupils from Groenvlei High School in Lansdowne have been training since last year for the adventure in aid of Ari’s Cancer Foundation, a non-profit that supports young people affected by cancer. Founded in 2012, it is named after Ariana “Ari” Jansen who died at the age of 25 in 2011 after fighting a brain tumour. 

The cyclists call themselves Ari’s Angels, and they hope to create awareness about cancer and raise
R150 000 for the foundation. They also want to raise another R150 000 for peace initiatives at their
school.

Each cyclist is seeking R5 000 public sponsorship.

From Saturday February 1 to Saturday February 8, the pupils will cycle six to eight hours a day from Suurbraak in the Overberg, to Cape Town. Their journey will take them through Malgas, Bredasdorp, Cape Agulhas, Elim, Gansbaai, Hermanus and Stellenbosch.

Along the way, they will visit schools and donate sports gear and stationery.

Their teacher and co-founder of the cycling club. Godfrey Hendrickse, is excited about the upcoming challenge.

“These are kids with so much potential, great kids, trying to make a change,” he said.

Cycling was introduced to the school three years ago with 10 pupils in the team. Now the team has 12 girls and nine boys.

In the last leg of the tour, the pupils will cycle 48km from Stellenbosch to the high school, and they hope fellow cyclists will join them on the route, each donating R1 000 to the cause. Those who do will get a medal.

Matric pupil Leila Hamze, the spokesperson for the cycling club, said they had worked very hard to prepare for the tour.

“We sacrifice a lot of our time to attend the gym sessions, the core sessions, the cycling, all to try and make a difference. Even on Saturdays and Sundays we’re on the road.”

She joined the cycling club two years ago having never ridden a bike before.

“I would go to the gym at school and see that there were only boys who were part of the team so I told myself let me do this, you know, for girl power. If somebody else can do it, I can too.”

Fellow matric pupil, Delano Tim, is the chairman of the club. He feels the team is ready for the challenge.

“We’ve made the necessary sacrifices and pushed through. I’m proud of the initiative we’ve made as young people.

“We’re also going to be away from school for the week you know, and some of us are in matric, but it’s all worth it because we want to promote cancer awareness and a healthier lifestyle.

“As a young man who’s grown up in Mitchell’s Plain around drug abuse I told myself that I want to do better for myself than them. Our society doesn’t need more gangsters, we need more leaders.”

The team’s coach and cycling club co-founder Asad Jassiem said: “We’ve monitored if they’re fit enough, their endurance, and they might be nervous but they are definitely ready.”

The team has drawn sponsorship from Mark Ahjan, a former Groenvlei High pupil who now runs a company that installs fibre infrastructure.

“I matriculated from Groenvlei in 1984, but, interestingly, when I was still at school, I represented the Western Cape for cycling. I’m very passionate about this, and I’m hoping that it goes further, I’m hoping one or two of these young, passionate and inspiring cyclists will represent the Springboks one day.”

Janine le Roux, from Ari’s Cancer Foundation, said the public can help by SMSing the word “cycle” to 40553. Each SMS costs R20 and will be used as a donation. No free SMSes or bundles apply. For more information contact Ms Le Roux at 082 336 1112.