Imagine earning money for being fit and physically active. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Selepe Phetla, a member of the Johannesburg Church of Christ in southern Africa, got “paid” when he recently completed a 94.7 km (58.8 miles) cycle race and raised funds for HOPE worldwide South Africa’s Early Childhood Development programme (ECD).
Selepe completed his third race for Team HOPE Cycle4Change, in just under four hours. He shared about the experience and what motivated him to do so:
In July 2013 I went for a medical and fitness assessment and was advised to lose some weight for better health. So I started making better food choices and seriously took up physical exercise, mostly cardio training. I managed to drop my weight from around 92 kg (202 lbs) to 72 kg (158 lbs) in a period of 18 months, and I’ve kept my weight in the recommended range ever since. In 2017, I kept on hearing announcements at church calling for cyclists to join Team HOPE, but I wasn’t a cyclist nor did I even own a bicycle. But as the closing date for entries approached I thought to myself: ‘Why can’t I join the cycling team, and raise funds for a good cause while keeping fit and healthy?’
I thought about the work that HOPE worldwide SA does to help children in disadvantaged areas such as Zandspruit and Diepsloot (informal settlements in Joburg), and felt compelled to ‘lend my legs’ to help raise funds for HOPE. I considered that I have a number of family members, friends and colleagues who’d be willing to donate money and all I needed to do was create a reason and a platform for them to donate.
I never imagined myself going at 60km/hr (37m/hr) on a bicycle; however, I’ve since been flying on the downhills. The uphills are still a mission but they’re good for my leg strength and help me to be patient. After all, ‘what goes up must comedown!’ [chuckles]
It’s been fulfilling to be able to raise funds for HOPE worldwide SA’s Early Childhood Development Programme over the past three years, and the support of my family, friends and colleagues has been incredible.
My best time in the race was last year, 3 hours 42 minutes, and I hoped to improve on that this year. While I prepared well and trained with Team HOPE, I had a slight knock on my hamstrings and had to be careful on race day. I decided to prioritize finishing the race over chasing a time target. It was quite a wonderful morning on race day; the amount of people that take part is incredible and the atmosphere is exciting. The support on the streets of Joburg is amazing with diverse groups of people cheering us on, and it encouraged us to keep paddling.
I did not ride as fast as I would’ve wanted to; however, I kept telling myself that I needed to finish the race for the sake of the children. The first half of the race was slow for me as I battled up the hills but I managed to get on a peloton on the freeway, which helped me catch up on my revised target. Unfortunately, my hamstring started ‘shouting’ at me, so I had to slow down a bit. At one of the waterpoints, I found my physiotherapist friend who helped with some relief on the hamstring. I eventually crossed the finish line in 3 hours 55 minutes, and I was so excited.
Better yet, I managed to raise quite a bit of money towards HOPE worldwide SA’s ECD Programme.
I’d like to encourage more people (health-permitting) to join Team HOPE, whether you are physically fit or not, whether you can ride a bike a not! You can learn how to ride and find a bicycle of your own. Cycling is good for improving one’s health and it’s a great opportunity to form new friendships. More importantly, cycling for Team HOPE makes a great difference toward the future of the less fortunate children of the country.
HOPE worldwide South Africa serves and supports over 20,000 children every month. If you would like to support their Early Childhood Development work, go to hopeworldwidesa.org/campaigns/ecd.
For more information on their work, visit hopeworldwidesa.org or follow them on Facebook.