Cycling for a better tomorrow

Founder of the Table Bay Charity Cycle Tour, Johan Marais.

Three homes for women and children benefited from the 16th annual Sun City to Table Bay Charity Cycle Tour.

A team of 25 cyclists were welcomed to Table Bay Hotel at the V&A Waterfront on Thursday March 8 (International Women’s Day) after cycling 1 749 kilometres in eight days from Sun City to Table Bay.

The cyclists were led to the Table Bay Harbour by the Cape Town 7 Steps Minstrels, and were joined by Miss South Africa 2017, Ade van Heerden.

They were welcomed by the Table Bay Harbour team, a group of sponsors and Stuart Diamond, the City’s mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management.

Along the way, the team raised about R600 000 and stopped in Klerksdorp, Bloemhof, Kimberley, Beaufort West and Worcester to make donations to several local charities.

In Cape Town, R220 000 of the R600 000 was split between Heatherdale Children’s’ Home in Athlone, the Saartjie
Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Surrey Estate and Nyakallo Orphans and Child Care in Dunoon.

Table Bay Hotel general manager, Joanne Selby, welcomed the cyclists and thanked them for their work. “Congratulations – 1 749 kilometres later – this is incredible. We are very grateful to each and every one of you. I know how much blood, sweat and tears you put into this every year. You will change many lives with the money you raised and are donating today.”

Also there to welcome them was Sun City general manager, Raul de Lima, who saw the team off on March 1. “Welcome to Cape Town. You all look as fresh as when I saw you off at Sun City a week ago. I am happy you all arrived safely and that you’ve all formed a camaraderie. Thank you for riding for this special cause.”

The Table Bay Charity Cycle Tour is the brainchild of Johan Marais, an avid cycler, who has completed the Cape Town Cycle Tour 20 times.

“About 17 years ago, after the Cape Town Cycle Tour, we were socialising and someone said ‘let’s cycle down from Pretoria to Cape Town’, and we decided to do it. Initially we raised funds just for cancer, but our charities have now expanded.”

He said in the 16 years of the charity tour, they have raised about
R9 million for all sorts of charities such as orphanages, homes and rehabilitation centres.

Mr Marais has been on every single charity tour, and said most of the group have been doing it for about 13 years.

“Every year we have a different team and there are people from all over. We have some from Germany and Austria too. Every day we covered about 220 kilometres and stopped in different towns. It’s an amazing experience.

“Every year we start training in August and get the team ready to set off a week before the Cape Town Cycle Tour.”

Ms Selby said last year, the team donated R200 000 to Portland High School in Mitchell’ Plain to assist with their feeding scheme and to upgrade their media centre, and this year, the funds will again go to children. “This year, the Table Bay would like to focus on education, so we want to give the money to the charities with a special focus on enhancing education.”

Heatherdale Children’s’ Home received a donation of R100 000.

The head of the residential division at Heatherdale, Bernard Engel, said they were grateful for the donation. “I think this is amazing. We will use the money to upgrade the media centre for the children at the home.”

He said the home services 50 children at risk – for those whose homes are beset with financial difficulties, drug/alcohol problems or physical abuse. They also run an outreach programme for substance abuse.

Bernadine Bachar, the director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Manenberg, said she was grateful for the donation of R60 000.

“We will put it towards building our ECD programme. We have 117 women and children at the home, so we are really happy we can help the children. And it’s a bonus that we’ve received this on International Women’s Day.”

Elizabeth Malope of Nyakallo Orphans and Child Care was over the moon for the donation of R60 000. “Those empty cupboards can now be filled with food. We are able to buy electricity, and pay school fees for the children.”

She said Nyakalo services 30 children in four houses in Dunoon. “The houses are tiny, so we are unable to keep them together.”

She said the money will also go towards buying beds for the children, as well as a fridge for one of the homes.

“When I started these homes, it was purely passion, and then it grew and grew. It’s very challenging because we receive no funding, but we survive through the generosity of friends and family.

“I don’t even have words to describe how grateful we are – this donation is a big one.”

The 25 cyclists stayed at the Table Bay Hotel for the days leading up to the Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday March 11.