Two brothers and their friends committed to a gruelling two-week cycle tour with the aim to raise money and awareness of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. They participated in the 2 200km Border2beach Pscycle tour.
Globally around 50 million people suffer from dementia and there are nearly 10 million new cases per year.
The last census in 2011 shown around 2.2 million people in the country living with some form of dementia but studies indicated it is more prevalent than previously.
Brothers, Lyle and Struan Anderson together with their friends, Gareth Myles and Simon Clayton started the tour on Saturday 24 August at Beitbridge in Musina (a border town in Zimbabwe). Their aim was to ride an average of 160km per day and raising R200 000 by the time they reached Lagoon Beach Hotel in Milnerton on Saturday 7 September.
Their big plan is to get 80 carers, especially for the rural areas.
The team is following the same route that Lyle and Straun’s late father, Jonathan took 50 years ago when he did the journey at the age of 17. The brothers are doing this as a tribute to his life and legacy after he passed away from dementia in 2018.
Lyle, a father of twin boys from Johannesburg said: “My father’s illness and subsequent death from Alzheimer’s in August last year made us appreciate how devastating this disease is, and how unprepared we as a family was to cope and support my father through the process.
“We hope that the Border2Beach Psycle tour will generate exposure and decrease the stigma around the disease while raising funds to train caregivers that can assist those in low-income communities that would otherwise be unable to access vital nursing care.”
Talking about preparing for the tour, Clayton a business development manager said they had to put in a lot of hours training to be able to take on this tour.
“I think we were all prepared well and we had everything well organised.
“We knew what we will be doing and when. For me when I was training I trained my body to do more,” he said adding that he also took part in the tour as a tribute to his father who has been battling with dementia for the past 10 years.
Struan, a dairy farmer and also a father of two from Kwa-Zulu Natal said: “We have learned that people affected by dementia in rural communities are often ostracised or even beaten as their symptoms are misunderstood.
Having helpers in these communities to educate and create understanding will hopefully reduce the stigma around mental health issues, empower people to look for early signs of detection and be better prepared should a loved one ever be affected by this cruel disease.”
Clayton added that the disease is misunderstood as people with dementia are preserved as bewitched or possessed by the devil. “We want to change that and we want the carers to help educate the communities and share on what can be done when someone has dementia,” he says.
The team was supported on the road by their logistics manager, Elizabeth Beckerling and cameraman and documentary filmmaker, Luke Veysie.
To raise for funds, their Back-a-Buddy campaign is still runing and those that wish to donate can go to www.backabuddy.co.za. For more on dementia visit https://alzheimers.org.za/
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