Grandfathers turn adventurers for a good cause

Last December over mugs of steaming coffee and home-made rusks at Willie and Marian’s holiday home in Kleinmond, Willie de Jager (63) and Marius Hayes (60) had both read Riaan Mansers Book, Around Africa on my bicycle and were bitten by an adventure bug.

The men decided to undertake a cycle challenge around the coast of South Africa and visit the 45 lighthouses along the way. The adventure became known as the Lighthouse Cycle Challenge. Phase 1 was a 10 day, more than 700km cycle challenge from Alexander Bay, on the border of Namibia, to Paternoster on the South African West Coast. The planning started immediately with Willie, a former accountancy professor, tackling the details. Marius first had to return to Malaysia to complete contract work there and arrived back a month before the kick off date in March.
On the 20 March, the two grandfathers-turned-adventurers and their support vehicle, manned by their spouses Marian and Esther, left Alexander Bay on the journey of a lifetime.

There was no shortage of challenges on their route, but the memorable moments, the hospitality of folk en route, the stillness of the open road, the camaraderie shared during many tough kilometres, the support of family and friends – and the sheer thrill of reaching the first milestone on their incredible journey were all inspiration enough for Willie and Marius to hit the road again!

Phase 2 was a 720km, 13 day journey from Paternoster to Cape Agulhas. The two men set out on the 8 October and completed the trip 13 days later on the 20 October 2010. They are set to complete their journey with Phase 3 sometime next year.
To leave a lasting legacy through their adventure, Marius and Willie decided to undertake the Lighthouse Cycling Challenge to cast light on a worthy cause. Graceland Pre-School is tucked away amongst the vineyards of Devon Valley on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. The beauty of its surrounds veils the many social problems facing the community in this valley. And so, over the past 13 years, Graceland has become more than a school. Here is a safe haven where its children receive not only education, but also attention to their physical needs, emotional support and spiritual guidance. This year, there are 45 children between the ages of 2 and 5 years in the school. The cycle challenge helped raise awareness of the many ways people can help and provide for the needs of Graceland Pre-School and of the wonderful work done there.

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“You are the storyteller of your own life. You can create your own legend or not” Isabel Allende