On Saturday, 9 June as the sun began to rise on a crisp lowveld morning, mountain bike enthusiasts and good-hearted people gathered at the Crossings Centre in front of Mopani Pharmacy and the Sasol garage in White River for a good cause. Everyone soon made their way about 30 minutes east towards the township of Zwelisha. Hot drinks were ready for the volunteers and riders who made it to the destination of Zwelisha Primary School.
Only 25 minutes out of Nelspruit, many had never been to this community. They were met with smiles and for the young riders participating from the community, there was excitement in their eyes. Riders had the option of doing a 18km route or a 36km route. The purpose of the race was to support the Zwel Kids Club which had over 30 of their own members participating. The soccer pitch was full of cars from cyclists who came out to support the event. An impromptu warm up began with over 100 cyclists riding around in a large circle with smiles and laughter. It was a wonderful coming together of all different ages and backgrounds.
The sponsors of the event were Sinani, which is a local N.P.O. birthed out of Church Unlimited, Mopani Pharmacy, Two Red Pens Marketing and Design Studio and Debonairs Pizza. There was the smell of chicken dust in the air as a local volunteer came to offer some delicious treats for the people who attended. Each one of the children participating received a donated pizza from Debonairs as well as water bottles and energy drinks once they finished. There was even a local massage therapist there, Deidré Dyers, from The Massage Hub, who volunteered her time to take care of riders after the challenge.
While the music was pumping, a participant all the way from Namibia crossed the finish line first with much fan fair from the local children. As the rest of the riders made their way across the finish line, applause and cheers were heard all around. Shortly after all the riders were safely across the finish line, a highlight of the event was hearing, paralympic medal winner Sibusiso Mogale, give a motivational speech directed at the youth. It was special because Sibusiso grew up in this area and can really relate to the kids. The swimmer has won 220 medals, 160 of them are gold and is training for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. Sibusiso is also a Mopani Sports Ambassador.
Collen Mathebula runs the Zwel Kids Club which cares for around 175 of the most vulnerable children from this community. The Zwel Kids model has been recognized all over South Africa and featured on E.TV.
If you would like to learn how to support this community or be involved in future events in Zwelisha, contact us here.