Seventy adult and children wheelchair users from the deep rural Eastern Cape overcame steep hills, gravel roads and exorbitant taxi fees to participate in the annual Madwalei Hospital Rolling Hills Wheelchair Race.

The howling wind did not deter the participants and by 09h00, a long queue had formed at the registration table. Community members from Madwaleni Hospital, Zithulele Hospital, Bedford Orthopaedic Hospital, Ikhwezi Lokusa Special School and Isilimela Hospital made the long journey in order to take part.

The participants were protected from the howling wind by a tent sponsored by Sisonke Grocery Store.

The 32 children with cerebral palsy took their starting positions first, participating in an 800m dash with the help of their moms, grandparents or brothers pushing them. Supporters and volunteers flocked to the tar road in front of Madwaleni to watch and cheer while the children and carers raced. Endinakho Phanziso won the race and was awarded a Spar voucher worth R300, a year’s subscription to Rolling Inspiration Magazine, Shonaquip umbrella and a buggy cover with cushions.

The next event was the 2.5km wheelchair race. 29 participants lined up at the starting line and sped off at the starting whistle. The winner, Zukile Nkumeni, won a Worldmade 4 wheelchair donated by Shonaquip, as well as a Spar voucher worth R500 and a year’s subscription to Rolling Inspiration Magazine.

Nine participants braved the much-anticipated 5km wheelchair race, where they hurtled up and down steep hills and gravel roads. The crowd that lined the road eagerly waited to see who would be the new champion. Aron Matshangana, a worker at Madwaleni Hospital, won the prestigious race. Community members and supporters surrounded him, then followed him over the finishing line while singing, cheering and dancing. He was awarded a new wheelchair suited to his personal needs, donated by CE Mobility, as well as a Spar voucher worth R1000 and a year’s subscription to Rolling Inspiration Magazine. CE Mobility also donated moon bags and gloves for the winners.

Every participant received a certificate, a medal and a food hamper donated by Elliotdale Circle Spar, the main sponsor of the event. Elliotdale Caltex and Aurora Hospital also contributed towards transport.

People without disabilities were invited to enter the 800m fun race in order to increase awareness of the experience of being a wheelchair user.

As part of the event, two health promotion stalls were set up, focusing on bladder and bowel care and TB/HIV education. There was also a wheelchair servicing station where participants could receive assistance with their wheelchairs, as well as a stall where Ikwezi Lokusa Special School sold crafts.

The entertainment line-up consisted of a praise singer, a talk on disability and a variety of musical items such as a choir from Zithulele and a traditional dance group of young girls from the Madwaleni community. This successful day was broadcast live to the community by UCRFM radio station.

The Rolling Hills Wheelchair Race was started in 2009 with the aim of integrating disabled community members through participation in sport and through community education.