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Health And Welfare

Stellenbosch para-triathlete Crowdfunds for Life-Changing Off-Road Wheelchair

Alwyn Uys, a 33-year-old wheelchair athlete from Stellenbosch, is not just a testament to overcoming adversity but also an inspiration to many. Once an avid rugby player for Maties University and the Sharks Academy, Alwyn’s life took a dramatic turn on December 13, 2014. A momentary lapse while driving led to a severe car accident, leaving him paraplegic and having to rely on a wheelchair.

Reflecting on the incident, Alwyn shares, “It was a huge change and impact on my life. Everything I used to love to do was now inaccessible to me. I had to change my thinking and how I do life, or I wouldn’t have made it out alive.”

Despite the challenges, Alwyn’s spirit remained unbroken. He redirected his passion for sports into becoming a formidable para-triathlete, engaging in triathlons, Ironman events, and other extreme endurance challenges. His remarkable achievements include being the first paraplegic in the world to successfully swim the Robben Island crossing. He is also the first South African paraplegic to complete a full-distance Ironman, earning him titles as a SA para-triathlete and para-cycling gold medalist.

Alwyn’s pursuit of freedom and adventure led him to discover the life-changing potential of an off-road wheelchair during a visit to the USA. “I first experienced this in the USA where they are more freely available to loan at beaches and parks. And it was a game-changer! The freedom I experienced was incredible. Now I was able to do the things I love again! I could move around freely. Go to the beach, go walk with my dogs, like I gained a piece of my life back,” Alwyn explains.

Motivated to continue his active lifestyle, Alwyn launched a BackaBuddy crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for his own off-road wheelchair. The total cost for the chair and a trailer for transportation is around R300,000, with manufacturing in Pretoria and about R5,000 needed to courier it to Cape Town. To date, his campaign has successfully raised over R165 000 with the generous support of 82 donors.

Alwyn Uys Ministries, his own registered NPC and PBO, issues 18A certificates for tax purposes, ensuring donors can also benefit from their contributions. When asked about the impact of this support, Alwyn states, “Despite the setbacks and hardships I’ve had to face and endure, life is still good, and God is still good to me! I realized through this all the importance of doing what you love in this life and the value of appreciation of what you have and the small things in life. Like being able to walk on the beach with your dogs.”

The acquisition of the off-road wheelchair represents more than just enhanced mobility for Alwyn; it symbolizes a reclaiming of his independence and a return to the joys of his pre-accident life. “It’s regaining a piece back of the life I used to live and being able to enjoy the things I once used to do freely,” he passionately adds.

The community is encouraged to continue supporting Alwyn’s journey to reclaim his independence and spread his inspirational message. 

Donations can be made at his BackaBuddy campaign page: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/campaign/freedom-wheels

Campaign video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5vEgAB1J0k&t=3s

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