Sonika Badenhorst cycled 2,300 kilometres – in 18 days – to raise funds for hearing-impaired children in South Africa.
Johannesburg, South Africa (25 January 2023) – When the Eduplex Pre-school in Pretoria opened its beautiful, big glass doors to the world, Sonika Badenhorst (43) was there. In fact, she helped to build and complete the school and welcomed the late Nelson Mandela when he formally opened it in March 2002.
Eduplex is a mainstream, parallel-medium school following an inclusive educational programme with separate English and Afrikaans classes, in which deaf and hearing children learn together within facilities custom designed for the specific needs of deaf children. The school places a lot of emphasises on the development of good listening skills, and the differentiated teaching methods ensure that all students reach their own full potential.
Eduplex has a special place in her heart, and with passion and conviction, she says there is no other school like it in the world because she has witnessed and experienced first-hand the miracles and magic that happen here for hearing-impaired children.
Sonika, an employee of the H.A.S.S. Group, is so committed to the gift of hearing cause that in July 2022, she packed her bags, the disassembled super light 7.5kg road bike with modified gears to handle the steep climbs and something warm, and flew off to Scotland. Little did she know that it was going to be one of the hottest summers in Europe ever and that instead of the jacket, she should rather have packed more sunscreen.
“The daytime temperatures varied between 36 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius. It was flaming hot out there,” she says.
“I boarded the first plane in Johannesburg, South Africa flew to Istanbul, Turkey and from there to Edinburgh, Scotland. A mere 18 hours after I arrived at the starting point, exhausted but excited I boarded another mode of transport – my bicycle. And off I went on the adventure of a lifetime to raise money for the education of deaf children from economically poor households in South Africa.”
For the next 18 days, Sonika and the rest of the ‘We Ride for Children’ team of 23 cycled on average 180km per day. Starting in the Scottish capital and ending in the picturesque village of Saas-Fee in Switzerland, she was the only woman who cycled every day and spend 2,300km in the saddle.
“It was the ride of my life. I had the privilege of cycling through Scotland, the city centre of London and all the way to Dover and hop on a ferry to France. By the way, that was basically the only time I was not on my bicycle. From Calais onwards, we cycled among lush green forests and fields in the countryside in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland. We even cycled on some of the Tour de France and Belgium Classic routes. My favourite part was when we did the gruelling yet famous Flanders cobbles, where short sections of the road comprise rounded lumps of granite.”
Sonika says she is in absolute awe of Alex who designed the 18 routes. It took him between 15 and 20 hours to plan each route and he did a sterling job.
“For example, he navigated us safely through a very busy London and we did not get lost once along the way. His planning skills are second to none and for this kind of marathon race, you need someone who is thorough and detailed. I am also exceptionally grateful for the miracle workers, the support crew of 25, who cook for us, pitched our tents, fixed our bicycles, and cheered us on all the way.”
And when she came back home with R500,000 in her pocket for bursaries at Eduplex, Sonika rested for a short four weeks and has already started preparing for the next Spendenmarathon in 2024.
Click here for more information about the Spendenmarathon.