Steep ride to help a friend

2015-12-07 09:48
Brandon Stewart (front left) smiles for the camera as he climbs Old Howick Road to raise money for a friend’s eye operation.

Brandon Stewart (front left) smiles for the camera as he climbs Old Howick Road to raise money for a friend’s eye operation. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - A Pietermaritzburg local summited Old Howick Road 17 times, almost the height of Mount Everest, to raise money for an eye operation for “an old friend”.

At 3 am on Saturday morning, former professional mountain biker Brandon Stewart started his 20-hour ride up Old Howick Road for his friend Robin Withers.

Withers, who is diabetic, has had multiple operations on his eyes to laser the blood vessels blocking the nerves in his retina, making it difficult to see.

In order for Withers to see properly again, he would need a few more operations however, the operations are costly and are becoming too expensive to continue.

“Robin and I had been friends for many years; more than 15 years,” said Stewart. “When I heard he was having an issue, I wanted to do something to help and I came up with the idea to summit Old Howick Road 20 times — the same height as Mount Everest at 10 000 metres. It just spiraled from there,” he said.

Withers said when he heard of Stewart’s plan, he was immediately taken aback by the support his circumstances had garnered.

“I was tongue tied. The support has been so amazing and everything has just snowballed with this event,” said Withers.

Stewart said that he for every summit of Old Howick Road, he would receive around R1 500 for Withers.

Stewart said although he had planned to summit the road 20 times, roughly 320 km, the heavy Hilton mist and rain made for dangerous cycling conditions and he decided to call it a day after he finished his 17th summit.

“I am quite delighted. I managed to ride 90% of what I wanted to do, and I was able to help a friend,” said Stewart.

Should anyone want to donate to Withers’s cause, go to his Facebook group, “Through Bubba’s Eyes”.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  cycling  |  ride
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