Cover Feature - Drive and Thrive Expo
The Drive and Thrive Expo which took place on the 9th March 2013 at the Swartkops Air Force Base, turned out to be a hot, fun and inspiring day for every one of the (nearly) 1000 people who attended of which about 250 people had a disability. It was supported by 55 companies, ranging from motor vehicle dealers, off-road vehicle dealers, the vehicle adaptation companies, car rental companies, wheelchair manufacturers, rehab centres, NGO's and a range of other companies that provide a service to people with disabilities. The particular focus was on driving and mobility.
The event was planned and organised by Rolling Rehab and Curamus with the aim of exposing people with disabilities to a variety of vehicles and driving options and at the same time creating awareness amongst the motor dealers of the size of the vehicle market for people with disabilities. Drive Pride, Mercedes Benz, LandRover, Honda and Toyota all went the extra mile and fitted either permanent or temporary Easy Rider controls to their vehicles making it possible for people to test drive a variety of vehicles. For many people this was the first time that they were able to do this and the experience and appreciation was clearly evident on their faces, as they drove in from the various test drive routes.
The dealers were well rewarded for their efforts by the number of vehicles that were ordered or sold on the day! The side-by-side quad bikes and buggies were the highlights for many people, as they had an opportunity to get out of their wheelchairs and experience driving off-road, feeling the wind in their hair and the sense of freedom that these vehicles can give. Three driving schools with adapted cars; Driving Ambitions, Disability Driving Academy and No Limits, made their vehicles and instructors available for the day.
A number of people who had not yet driven an adapted vehicle, mostly those who are recently injured, had the opportunity to discover that it is still possible to drive, with the help of a driving instructor and a suitably adapted car. One of the most informative areas was the "Park and Show" where a number of people brought their adapted vehicles and had them on display, sharing the solutions that they had worked out for themselves that enable them to drive. Many people commented on how inspiring this was and how much they learned from the various people who so generously shared their time and their skills to help inspire others. "Mind blowing" is the only way that the performances from Luan Degenaar and Sampie Erasmus can be described. Luan- a super strong quadriplegic- pulled an airplane from his wheelchair, while Sampie, a T4 paraplegic (i.e. he has no balance), showed how he rode his motocross bike. Both were absolutely aweinspiring. Jaime
Villela had the crowds holding their breath as he raced against a flying Harvard up the runway and back. Initially, it looked as if Jaime and his Mercedes-Benz AMG DTS were outclassed, but on the turn they got their own back and by reaching a top speed of 272km/h, the Harvard had no chance of catching them. As described by Viv Sierra from Chairman Industries, "it was an amazing day!"