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‘Epic journey’ nearing its end

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One of the journey’s hashtags is #SportChangesLives, and Deejay believes paraplegics and quadriplegics should take up a sport

Deejay Manaleng, who was left paralysed after an accident in 2014.

THE TWELVE-member OCAL (One Chance at Life) Global team including differently-abled athletes are nearing Cape Town as part of an epic 2 200km, 10-day, 24-hour non-stop journey to raise funds for Northern Cape children with mental and physical disabilities.

Among the participants is a 32-year-old Northern Cape resident, Warnell Engelbrecht, who is hearing impaired. Other members of the team include a crutch runner and a one-hand cyclist.

The event, sponsored by Totalsports, started in Centurion on May 10, with OCAL Global founder Nicolene Anley leading the team down through the Kalahari, hugging the border of Namibia and the Cederberg Mountains headed for the finish line of the FNB 12 OneRun in Cape Town on Sunday.

OCAL Global’s mission is to raise funds to assist 133 Northern Cape children with mental and physical disabilities, commonly resulting from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, amputations, genetic syndromes, spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries.

Their fund-raising efforts have been boosted by a donation of R120 000 by Totalsports.

The team includes 31-year-old hand-cyclist Deejay Manaleng, a journalist and student at the University of Johannesburg, who was left a T9/T10 paraplegic after an accident in 2014. During this journey Deejay has already experienced unforgettable moments.

“I got to cycle off road for the first time while chasing the sunset. It was the most beautiful experience ever and I am sure 100 years from now I will look back and say to the person sitting next to me ‘I once saw heaven’,” she posted on the OCAL Global Facebook page.

One of the journey’s hashtags is #SportChangesLives, and Deejay believes paraplegics and quadriplegics should take up a sport.

“When I heard that I may never walk again after my accident, one of my biggest worries was that I won’t be able to take part in sport. But when my occupational therapist told me I would be able to take part in certain sports, I crawled out of that darkness within me. The thoughts of killing myself left me for good because I knew I could still chase my freedom through sport,” she says.

Craig Lamb, head of Totalsports, said he was incredibly proud of the OCAL Global team for demonstrating in the most inspiring way just how sport can change lives. “We look forward to welcoming them to Cape Town at the end of their epic journey.”’

– Patsy Beangstrom