We are not disabled but “differently abled” and want to be part of society.
This is the message a team of nine able-bodied runners, two hand cyclists and an amputee want to convey on their 10-day relay race from Cape Town to Pretoria, starting today.
The non-stop 24-hour race is organised by non-profit organisation One Chance At Life Global (OCAL).
This challenge is the first of OCAL Global’s annual initiatives. The team will not only be doing this to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries but also funds to assist two individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries and provide them with the necessary medical resources, much needed rehabilitation, getting the right wheelchairs.
From there they will be integrated into the team core team of the 2017 journey.
Founder of One Chance Alun Davies said the race was meant to alter perceptions about disability.
“People are all essentially differently abled. People who are disabled can overcome anything in life. A lot of us take it for granted that we have two arms and two legs,” said Davies.
Jeffrey Yates, 37, one of the hand cyclists, broke his neck in a car accident when he was 19 years old.
“In the beginning you go through a lot of emotions, like ‘Life is unfair; why did this happen to me?’; you feel frustrated and demotivated,” he said.
But sport has always been a big part of his life. He started hand cycling in 2011 and it gave him the confidence to do other sports. He also enjoys doing extreme sports like paragliding and water skiing.
“When I look at the word “disabled”, it simply means “broken”. We have to move away from this negative terminology. We like to think of ourselves as differently abled,” said Yates.
On May 8, 2016, you can join thousands of runners in the Wings for Life World Run, a global race a world beyond any other. Step up, nominate friends, challenge family and run for those who can’t. Visit their official website here.