THE Wheel to Heal Cycle Challenge, which took place in Cape Town, in December, 2022, raised R1,7-million, which was donated to Groote Schuur Oncology, PinkDrive NPC and Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, writes our STAFF REPORTER.
In the challenge, 33 dedicated cyclists, most of whom had some association or had lost someone to cancer or multiple sclerosis, commenced the cycle tour from Mossel Bay to Cape Town on December 4. They cycled through Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Barrydale, Montague, Worcester, Wellington. The total distance covered over the eight-day journey, which ended in Cape Town on Sunday, December 11, was 670 kilometres.
Wheel To Heal, a registered NPO, was convened by Dr Elias Parker, a well-known Cape Town dentist, with the aim of supporting initiatives and raising funds for cancer patients and those affected by multiple sclerosis and, where possible, also provide relief for the underprivileged communities.
The inspiration for Wheel to Heal is Dr Elias Parker’s late wife, Mariam, who succumbed to cancer in July 2018 after a two-year long battle with the disease.
In honouring the memory of his wife, Dr Parker reached out not only to cyclists, but also to others who have survived cancer, those affected by multiple sclerosis and the broader community to raise funds and create awareness.
‘The Wheel to Heal Challenge was a massive undertaking, and we must extend our thanks to our cyclists, the support team, their families and support structures at home, our sponsors as well those who contributed on the donation pledge line.
‘The challenge might have come to an end but cancer and multiple sclerosis have not. We encourage everyone to continue to support our beneficiaries who remain critical to the support of patients around South Africa,’ expressed Dr Parker, founder and director of Wheel to Heal.
Professor Jeanette Parkes, head of department: Radiation Medicine, at Groote Schuur Hospital, noted, ‘The Oncology department at Groote Schuur Hospital is deeply indebted to Dr Elias Parker and the Wheel to Heal team for the incredible R1 000 000 donation towards the refurbishment of our new outpatient chemotherapy room. We salute the riders, and all the benefactors who have joined together to make this possible.’
Non Helena Smit, of Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, who received a donation of R250 000, was also appreciative of their donation, and stated, ‘Thank you again for your kindness and compassion. Your donation is a testament to your commitment to improving the lives of those affected by multiple sclerosis and your belief in the power of community to bring about change. Please accept our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude.’
PinkDrive, a recognised health sector NPC, focusing on gender related cancer screening was also one of the beneficiaries of the Wheel to Heal Cycle Challenge.
‘For PinkDrive, the highlight of this incredible challenge was the humanitarian aspect of it. Our team had the opportunity to visit informal settlements and organisations as well as hand out food parcels to communities in need, but most significantly, to raise awareness of breast cancer in these communities and underpin the importance of early detection,’ says Tenielle October, marketing and event co-ordinator of PinkDrive Cape Town.
‘The astronomical costs involved in providing free mobile cancer screening services to the medically uninsured across South Africa makes keeping PinkDrive afloat extremely challenging. Having initiatives such as Wheel to Heal raising much needed funds as well as awareness in communities fills us with deep gratitude.
‘The R450 000 donation received allows us to start a fund to purchase a much-needed, second, state of the art 3D mammography machine. In honour of the late Mariam Parker, these funds will be ring-fenced to ensure her name will live on.
‘We are incredibly grateful to Dr Parker for recognising the work PinkDrive is doing by including us as one of the beneficiaries of the maiden Wheel to Heal tour.
‘If anyone else would like to be part of this initiative to raise the additional, much needed funds, please do not hesitate to contact me on 083 460 6146, especially now as many corporates must utilise their 2022 CSI funding,’ concluded Noelene Kotschan, founder and CEO of PinkDrive.