Nelson Mandela Bay’s sporting stars did battle in the inaugural SPAR Wheelchair Celebrity Challenge earlier this month, with some of the able-bodied heroes coming off second best.
The Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities in the metro kicked off its 2015 Wheelchair Wednesday Campaign with the fun-filled encounter at the SPAR Little Ladies race at Pollok Beach on May 1.
The light-hearted challenge saw Eastern Province Kings rugby players and Chippa United footballers clash in an informal wheelchair obstacle race.
Thereafter, a final showdown pitted the winners of the three heats against this year’s official campaign ambassador, wheelchair tennis player Marshall Marsh, and wheelchair hand-cycle star Zolani Runeli.
Marsh, a recent NMMU human movement sciences graduate who is preparing for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, sped to the finish to claim victory ahead of Runeli.
EP Kings powerhouse forward Tim Agaba, who was one of the celebrities to be outmuscled by Marsh and Runeli, graciously accepted defeat.
“It was a first-time experience for me and I found it exciting to interact with the wheelchair athletes,” said Agaba.
“It was also fantastic to see how many people turned out to support the event and the excitement from the kids who were watching was infectious.”
He said the challenge had given him new insight into the lives of those in wheelchairs and the obstacles they have to conquer on a daily basis.
Agaba said it was important to raise awareness for people with disabilities through these community-based events.
“I believe that support from the community is absolutely essential.”
He said he was grateful to those involved in the initiative and for the time and effort they put into it.
“On behalf of the Eastern Province Kings, I’d like to express our sincerest gratitude for being invited and we would love to take part again in future.”
APD fundraising manager Brett Marshall said initiatives like the SPAR Wheelchair Wednesday campaign helped to create awareness for the 100 000 people in Nelson Mandela Bay living with disabilities.
“We thought this would be a simple and fun way to not only raise awareness for people with disabilities, but also give insight into their everyday lives,” he said.