A project that was established early in 2012 to raise funds for the purchase of wheelchairs and other mobility equipment for underprivileged brain-damaged people, has come to fruition with the donation of five high-quality wheelchairs to Headway – the Head Injuries Association.
Named Wheels4Wheels, the project highlights the dire need for mobility equipment in a sector where the high costs of such equipment make it extremely difficult to obtain.
Wheels4Wheels was started by keen mountain-bikers Michael van Harmelen and Bevan Jeffery. Bevan Jeffery works as a biokineticist and does Pro Bono work for Headway assisting with rehabilitation of brain damaged patients, hence the personal interest in mobility. The Trojan’s Trust, which was established for the support of these patients, was identified as the vehicle to help these patients with new wheelchairs. The pair of riders then rode one of the most challenging mountain bike races in the world – the ABSA Cape Epic, as charity team, Team Trojans 2.
Van Harmelen, who works as a Marketing Executive at Plascon, says: “We are lucky enough to be in a position where our bicycle wheels can bring hope to those with no wheels by giving them wheels of their own. Most of these people have no medical aid and due to their circumstances cannot afford or even get access to a wheelchair. Bevan and I were on a training ride and I mentioned that perhaps we should use the Cape Epic as an opportunity to help someone. Wheels4Wheels was born from that discussion.”
“The Wheels4Wheels fundraising initiative supports the Trojan’s Trust. Through the Trojan’s Trust we will be able to change the lives of people who are unable to socialise or simply move around their homes.”
Putting its faith in this cause, and one of their own employees, Plascon was the largest contributor to the Trojan’s Trust in 2012, which is administered Pro Bono by financial services group FedGroup. Team Trojans 2 has a variety of sponsors including Biogen, Powasol, Silverback, Expressive Photography and ConnectWeb.
“It was unbelievable to get support from companies who are involved in cycling. They didn’t hesitate when asked to support this cause. Riding the Cape Epic was tough and took dedication and months of training before the event, but it is nothing compared to the dedication of the patients at Headway who show unbelievable determination day after day, year after year. It’s a humbling experience being around those amazing people,” says Van Harmelen.
Since March last year, Wheels4Wheels has raised enough money to buy a total of five brand new wheelchairs. The Trust opted for quality over quantity, and decided to buy fewer but higher-quality chairs for longevity and serviceability.
The new chairs were handed over to their recipients on Tuesday 29 January 2013 at Headway. Plascon’s CSI manager Patrick Seager, Team Trojan’s riders Michael van Harmelen & Bevan Jeffery and representatives from the Trojans Trust and FedGroup were present at the handover.
For more information, please visit www.wheels4wheels.co.za