Ever since he was a young boy, Cedric Mkhize has had BIG dreams. He dreamed about being a BIG rugby star and playing for the Sharks, and he dreamed about driving and owning a BIG car, and not just ANY BIG car, but a Chrysler. He has always loved the look of the Chrysler.His first BIG dream came true when he made his Sharks debut against Griquas in 2005. He played six games, scoring three tries. He was also a member of the squad that won the Under 21 World Cup in 2005. Cedric represented the Sharks at Super 14 level and scored four tries and was known on the field for his elusive side step and beaming smile. He was a young player with a lot of talent and there was a lot of anticipation about his future.
His second BIG dream came true in away that nobody anticipated or hoped for. On the 24 July 2007, Cedric was injured in a car accident which resulted in paraplegia. This put an instant end to his first dream, but opened the door to his other BIG dream, and forced him to start dreaming differently.South African Rugby Legends raised funds for Cedric to buy a vehicle. They were assisted by the pupils from Hilton College who raised enough money to pay for the hand controls he would need. He was able to buy his dream car – the Chrysler C300 3.5L V6.
When choosing his dream car Cedric followed his heart. He made sure that it had the necessary features, such as being the right height to transfer into and out of, ensured that it was automatic, checking that there was enough space for loading and transporting his wheelchair, and that it had good safety features.
Once he was sure of those features, he looked at size and comfort. Cedric loves to drive and the experience behind the wheel of the C300 is one that he looks forward to every day. His drive to and from work has become a pleasure for him. Cedric has an amazingly positive attitude to life and to his disability but, on those odd days when things get him down, he takes himself for a drive and lets his C300 works its magic on him.
So what is it that he loves the most about his Chrysler? I think it’s the sound system - which I experienced the moment he turned the car on - but he says it’s the way the car handles. It provides a sedate and luxurious ride, but there is plenty of power in the 3.5-litre V6 when he squeezes that hand control. It does not have the fastest acceleration, it weighs almost two tons, but once it is going it flies, and the smooth ride makes it feel as if you really are flying.
Stopping is no problem with high performance 4-wheel disc anti-lock brakes (ABS), vented front and rear discs and all-speed traction control.
The vented discs help to prevent brake-fade caused by overheating of the brakes. Its ESP (Electronic Stability Program) helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle during extreme steering manoeuvres. This includes a brake assist feature, an electronic device that measures the speed at which you come off the accelerator and hit the brakes.
In emergency braking situations, when the driver has moved quickly from one pedal to the other, the brake assist kicks in and boosts the braking power.
Cedric loves the heated leather seats but adores the memory seating. The driver’s seat can be adjusted in many ways including height, seat angle and distance from the steering wheel. It has two memory settings – great if there are two drivers, or if a person needs a different seat position when loading their wheelchair. The C300 takes seat memory even further – it will also store your mirror settings and favourite radio station, adjusting automatically when you choose your seat setting! The steering column has a tilt and telescopic adjustment to help you find your optimal driving position.
The size of the door opening is huge, which makes loading of Cedric’s wheelchair very easy.
He does not even need to change his seat position when loading his chair, as there is so much space.
The interior comfort is hard to beat, and the car has massive interior space as well as boot space, so there is plenty of room for the wheelchair both inside the car and in the boot.
When he and his girlfriend go away for the weekend – which they love doing – everything gets loaded into the boot, with room to spare.
There are lots of features that come standard with the car to enhance your driving pleasure: dual zone climate control allows the driver and passenger sides of the car to be set to different temperatures; an infra-red rain-sensing windshield system activates the wipers when it senses moisture and it even has headlight washers!
The High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlamps burn brighter, last longer and provide up to 33% improvement over average halogen bulbs.The cruise control allows for relaxed driving, particularly when driving with hand controls and, when engaged, the cruise control will automatically shut down 4 cylinders to reduce fuel consumption ( on the 5.7 HEMI® V8).The Chrysler 300C’s ParkSense® Front / Rear Park Assist System uses sound waves to detect nearby obstacles whilst reversing. Audio and visual indicators alert you to the proximity of the object, providing a little extra help when parking. This is only available on the 5.7 HEMI® V8.Cedric uses a hand control fitted by Billy Hall Jones. It has a brake lever next to the steering wheel which he pushes away for braking.
On the top of this is another smaller lever which he squeezes towards the steering wheel for acceleration. This works via a cable, which is neatly tuckedaway, well clear of his legs when he is transferring into and out of the vehicle. Unfortunately the hand brake on the C300 has been converted into a foot brake requiring the fitting of an additional lever on the left hand side of the steering wheel.
Cedric is Sibaya Casino Entertainment Kingdom’s training co-ordinator but is undecided about his future. He is not afraid of facing his fears and tackling challenges head-on, as he did in a 26m free drive with sharks.
Cedric’s positive attitude tolife and to his disability has kept his friends close and will continue openingmany doors for him, and his faithful C300 is a constant reminder that no matterhow tough life gets, it is still possible to turn BIG dreams into evenbigger realities.