Disabled athlete's campaign for gold on track after over R50 000 raised

2019-06-29 06:54
Rouvaun Wallace in action. (Supplied)

Rouvaun Wallace in action. (Supplied)

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Disabled athlete Rouvaun Wallace has promised to bring home gold to every donor who helped get him on track to represent South Africa at the 2019 World Para Athletics Junior Championships in Switzerland next month.

His ticket has been booked after more than R50 000 was raised to help him get to Nottwil, where he will contend for top honours in the 100m, 200m and 400m as well as long jump events.

"I will make everyone proud, especially those who encouraged, supported and donated to help me book my place at the championships. I am so excited. I can't wait to go," an ecstatic Wallace told News24.

"No longer having to worry about finding money to get me there is a huge weight off my and my family's shoulders. I am grateful."

The teenager from Ravensmead, about 25km from Cape Town, suffers from a leg disability as his right leg is shorter and disproportionate to the other one.

His condition was diagnosed after a soccer injury in 2017.

Determined to become a world-famous athlete, Wallace trains up to four times a week, cycling over 10km from his home to the Bellville Velodrome.

He was chosen by the South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled Para Athletics' selection committee to represent South Africa at the self-funded event in Nottwil.

His disability classification is a T38, which includes athletes with coordination impairments and who may have a slight limp.

News24 readers raised almost R10 000 in two days after Wallace's story was published.

On Thursday, officials from Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane's office visited the teenager at his Ravensmead home.

Her department had been approached by Coca-Cola who donated R50 000 toward his trip, while a private donor had also sponsored him with R5 000.

"I came so close to crying. I couldn't believe what I was hearing," an incredulous Wallace said.

And his worries about running on the international stage in his worn out, three-year-old running spikes are also a thing of the past - a relative has offered to purchase him brand new running shoes.

Wallace and his family had tried to raise the money on their own, selling hamburgers and digging into their own pockets to try and get to the R45 000 needed to secure his spot.

A karaoke planned for Friday at the local high school hall will go ahead as planned and the funds raised will be Wallace's pocket money.

"No longer having to worry about raising funds means I can look forward to the experience. I can read up about Switzerland and dream about the things I am going to see when I get there. I can finally be excited because this is happening."

Wallace and his three siblings have been living with his grandmother, Louisa Frasenburgh, for more 10 years. His single mother died after a short illness when he was seven.

His aunt, Delia Ocks, had taken the task of funding Rouvaun's dreams upon herself. Relatives have in the past "made a plan" to get him to national events, but the price tag of the Nottwil trip was too steep for them to cover.

"I am so happy and relieved that all of this has happened for him. We tried, but before News24 published his story, we had only raised R700," she said.

No one deserved the opportunity more than him, Ocks maintained.

"He believes that he is going to bring back the medals, so we're behind him all the way. He wants to do this for his country, but also all those people who donated and backed him."

Wallace said Nkoana-Mashabane had asked him to bring back at least one first prize.

"She wants one gold, but I am going to show that I can bring back four. I will prove to everyone that I can do it."

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