The ‘Blade Runner of Soweto’ gets set

2011-12-03 19:49

There is a new “Blade Runner” in town.

Thanks to a new prosthetic leg, Lehlohonolo Koalane has not only realised his dream of playing soccer, but the 12-year-old has developed a new passion for running.

For the better part of his childhood, “Hloni”, who hails from Pimville in Soweto, was nagged by a mysterious disease, his mother Dinono said.

The family’s worst fears were confirmed when Koalane was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. The only medical option was to have his right leg amputated below the knee to prevent the disease from spreading throughout his body.

“He spent the whole of last year in hospital,” Dinono told City Press during a visit to their modest family home in Pimville’s Zone 3 section.

A cultural exchange programme between Mexico and South Africa opened doors for Hloni while he was still a patient at Chris Hani- Baragwanath Hospital.

The Reach for a Dream Foundation and Fundación Teletón México – both non-profit organisations – allowed Hloni to tour the Central American country last year with his mother.

Although the Mexicans donated a prosthetic leg for Koalane, it is the “blade” that has excited the youngster more.

“I am happy that I can now play soccer with my leg – I love running too,” said Koalane whose extended family relies on government grants to make ends meet.

“I thank God for meeting the right people who gave my boy a new leg,” said his 38-year-old unemployed mother.

Koalane – an ardent Orlando Pirates fan – received his blade last month from Jumping Kids Prosthetic Fund, a non-profit organisation that provides prosthetics to disadvantaged children.

Johan Snyders, CEO of Icexpress Progressive Prosthetics, said: “Kids must have fun and with this blade Hloni now has the right tool that enables him to go to school and play with his friends.”

The same company manufactures prosthetics for Paralympic icon Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius and his national team-mate Arnu Fourie.

Snyders was accompanied by Ernst van Dyk, a South African wheelchair and handcycling racing champion who won the Boston Marathon eight times.

Meanwhile. the Grade 6 pupil from Tshebedisano Primary School has earned instant celebrity status as his four-roomed home has now attracted international TV crews and Paralympic stars.

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