Joost launches his new book

By admin
12 July 2013

Joost van der Westhuizen’s new book, 99 Dinge Wat Ek Wil Hê My Kinders Moet Weet, is dedicated to the most important people in his life, his kids Jordan and Kylie.

It’s an afternoon tinged with both excitement and sadness. Excitement because 42-year-old former Springbok hero Joost van der Westhuizen’s book is about to be launched, and sadness because the motor neurone disease (MND) sufferer is a brother, son and above all a dad.

His book, 99 Dinge Wat Ek Wil Hê My Kinders Moet Weet (99 Things I Want My Children to Know), has been dedicated to the most important people in his life, his children Jordan (9) and Kylie (7), and today his nearest and dearest are gathered to celebrate its launch at the Stone Cradle restaurant in Doornkloof.

A shy Kylie sits next to her dad, hiding from all the attention and cameras behind an iPad. Jordan was unfortunately unable to attend the function.

“It’s a huge thing Joost has done for his children, and anybody who reads the book,” his older brother Pieter (43) says. “His inner wisdom clearly shines through in this book, even though his body is not what it used to be.

“It’s been written by someone facing a death sentence. But people can learn from the book’s positive message. You have to live your life to the full and not allow setbacks to get you down,” adds Pieter, who’s managing director of the clothing division of the J9 Foundation, Joost’s charity in aid of MND sufferers.

He and Joost used to be competitive as schoolboys, Pieter says nostalgically. “In every sport we played, one had to beat the other.” Joost’s perseverance taught Pieter an important life lesson.

“Don’t give up if you believe in something. When Joost was in matric he told me he was going to become a Springbok and with this goal in mind he used to train every afternoon after school. It was such a huge privilege to see his dream come true.”

Joost’s dad, Gustav, also says his son has taught him to be positive. His mom, Mariaan, agrees. “He’s always motivated and prepared to help people. He’s learnt from his mistakes and has been through a lot and achieved a lot. Besides reaching the pinnacle in his rugby career he’s found God. And that’s important for us. We’re very proud of him,” she says.

As usual a modest Joost downplays his achievement. “It’s something small I’ve done but hopefully it has a big impact. I’m very happy,” he says, speaking with difficulty.

What will the book mean to others?

“Their own emotions will determine what they get out of it. It depends on whether you’re prepared to be honest with yourself.”

The book is the second project that’s been launched to raise funds for Joost’s medical expenses. The first was the song Nommer 9, released by Afrikaans singer Kaptein Skuim. “So many people have come forward wanting to support Joost because he gave them so much pleasure on the rugby field. They want to be there for him. We decided to start projects to raise funds for him because he’s medical expenses are no joke,” Pieter says.

Pieter has a message for his brother. “I’m looking forward to when you get better,” he says, swallowing back tears. “And to when we’re going to play golf in December.”

With every copy bought of this book you contribute R10 to Joost’s medical expenses.

What is the J9 Foundation?

Joost van der Westhuizen launched the J9 Foundation to support other MND sufferers financially and emotionally. The organisation creates a platform enabling the public and corporate sector to make a positive contribution to MND sufferers’ quality of life.

The main aim of the J9 Foundation is to offer personal attention and support to families affected by MND. The team, Joost included, visit these families personally to identify their unique requirements, whether they need more information about the disease, advice about resources or merely a sympathetic, understanding ear.

Joost, who was diagnosed with MND in 2011, has decided to not personally benefit from the funds raised by the J9 Foundation – his medical expenses are managed separately from those of the fund.

- Loren Pienaar

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