When sr. Anneke Olivier(44) first told her husband, Eugene, that she wanted to walk from her home town Bethulie in the Free State, to Cape Town, he thought she was joking. About a week later he asked, “Are you serious?” Eugene commented that it would be easier cycling the distance of about 875km than walking.
Anneke, a full-time nursing sister at the Bethulie Clinic, was diagnosed with MS in 2010. She lives each day to the full in service of others. “I want to live a normal life and don’t think of myself as sick.” She has always been a keen athlete representing the Southern Free State in biathlon. She completed the Argus nine times and in 2011 she swam the Midmar Mile.
On 25th April Anneke set out from Bethulie to walk the approximately 875km to Cape Town accompanied by two friends, Marina Voges, a regional magistrate in Bloemfontein and Tania Groenewald, an employee of Agri-Hertzogville in the Free State. Anneke nursed both Marina and Tania’s fathers through cancer till the end. Jaco Visagie of Kroonstad drove the accompanying support vehicle which was sponsored by the Association for Persons with Disabilities in the Free State (APD). Elna van Schalkwyk, MSSA representative from Hoopstad and herself a person living with multiple sclerosis, made special effort and walked the first 16km of the route with and in support of Anneke.
As May is International MS month, Anneke’s aim is to create awareness and raise funds for the foundation in support of the very important work they do amongst people living with MS. All along her route she paid visits to MS patients, educated and informed the public, handed out brochures at town clinics, road workers, and at petrol stations along the N1. Anneke is on an Interferon treatment which she administered herself during the walk. The treatment is a disease modifying drug which keeps relapses at bay. Except from feeling poorly for two days after the injection Anneke is doing well on the treatment. Both Marina and Tania are healthy.
Anneke had faithfully practised her road work for a few months before the long walk. Developing blisters during the preparation time inevitably resulted in her using the treadmill for a while instead. However, the preparation did not prevent the party from developing pain, blisters and sore feet along the way. They walked the average daily distance of 45 km in three shifts starting at 8h00 every morning with a 30 minute breakfast break after the first shift and a lunch break before the final shift of the day. En route acquaintances would stop by with small talk while others would stop to enquire about the reason for the walk. Overall Anneke and her team were impressed by the hospitality, hosting and support along the way. Polite and friendly fellow road users would hoot and wave. A traffic cop near Richmond pulled them off for (imaginary) speed. On the dark side they discovered a body of a hit-and-run accident along the road.
“I’ve often travelled to Cape Town by car, mostly missing out on the beauty and uniqueness along the way. I look at it differently now. Doing this was an unbelievable experience and privilege.” says Anneke who arrived in Cape Town on 15 May 2015. Welcoming Anneke to Cape Town at the end of her amazing walk was Non Smit, Director MSSA WC, Executive member Christelle Taute, people living with MS, family of Anneke and friends of MS. Anneke was showered with champagne and words of appreciation and gratitude for a successful walk completed in the name of MS awareness and fundraising. MSSA are proud of Anneke and her co-walkers and are looking forward with great excitement to the next Anneke event in 2016!
To contribute and make a difference in the lives of people living with Multiple Sclerosis in SA please donate generously. Consider signing a stop order at your bank starting at R50 per month. Alternatively give generously to show your appreciation and gratitude for living a life of gratitude.
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Account name: MSSAWC
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