Amputee walks 7 000km to raise funds for prostheses

2016-12-02 20:12
Jandre Venter and Paul Steyn. (Tammy Petersen)

Jandre Venter and Paul Steyn. (Tammy Petersen)

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Cape Town - After walking 7 000km through nine provinces, there was a spring in Paul Steyn’s step when he entered Cape Town Stadium on Friday, 15 months after setting off on his journey to raise funds for prostheses for needy amputees.

Steyn, 29, the founder of the Paul Steyn Foundation, stepped up to the personal challenge in which he travelled to towns such as Keimoes and Okiep, sleeping in hotels and even camping on the side of the road when there were no lodges.

His endeavour saw him raise enough money, through corporate sponsorships and donations from the public, to help six amputees.

One prosthesis can cost between R60 000 and R100 000.

"But my dream is to raise enough money to start a mobile workshop which can go to various towns to help needy people get access to prostheses," he explained.

'There is no such thing as a disability'

This, however, would cost millions of rands to cover the cost of the vehicle and the required specialists.

But Steyn remains optimistic, an attitude which has seen him make the best of his life, despite his disability.

He lost his leg in a lawnmower accident at the age of 13.

"I felt my life was over, until I told myself that life carries on and must be enjoyed just as it is," Steyn told hundreds of people living with disabilities at Cape Town Stadium, at an event to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is on Saturday.

The audience gasped in awe as he explained that he refused to let the loss of his leg interfere with living his life and taking part in extreme sports and skydiving.

"There is no such thing as a disability. Enjoy life as it is. All of us are normal like anyone else. Never give up."

Steyn is a qualified engineer who started the foundation after completing his studies at Boland College in Worcester.

Mentally challenging

Through his tireless fundraising, he has managed to raise enough to help 16 people get prosthetic limbs.

He started his journey at Cape Town's V&A Waterfront last August, pulling a little wagon containing items he would need on his journey. At one point, he ran out of water.

Oasis in Kuruman sponsored him a support vehicle when he made his way to the Northern Cape. 

He also gave motivational talks to school children as he travelled through 150 cities and towns.

"The experience was difficult," he admitted.

"In January, walking through the Free State, it was very hot, with no trees [on the roadside]. It was challenging, especially mentally."

He looked forward to spending his first night back in his own bed after sleeping in a different environment every night.

'I just want to pay it forward'

On Friday, 19-year-old Jandre Venter joined Steyn for the final 5km of his walk.

The teenager lost his leg in a motorbike accident in May and received a prosthesis from the foundation.

"It was amazing to do this with him. I was tired after my rather short walk. Imagine how Paul must feel," Venter said.

Steyn is determined to drastically increase the number of people benefiting from his efforts.

“I believe in what I do; I just want to pay it forward and help people. If it costs me walking another 15 000km, I will do it.”

The foundation will on Saturday host a fun walk along the promenade in Sea Point to Green Point Park.

To donate, click here.


Read more on:    cape town  |  health

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