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MOTORBIKING

Words: Sarah Kobal ǀ Photos: DO IT NOW Media

Quads 4Quads a huge success This year's Quads4Quads charity event was a huge success, raising more than a million rand for the Quad Para Association of South Africa (QASA). Now in its 10th year, Quads4Quads took off from Carnival City, Johannesburg, on Thursday, 26 September and ended back at Carnival City on Sunday, 6 October. Riders either rode the Down Run (Johannesburg to Ballito) or the Up Run (Ballito to Johannesburg), but there were also those who chose to go both ways.

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Ari Seirlis and Louise Rode

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Although some participants see each other only once a year at this event, Quads4Quads brings people, young and old, together from all over, thus creating a close family that welcomes new riders with open arms. This year's event saw twelve-year-old Liam Edwards taking part for the first time. Proudly standing on stage with a huge grin, Edwards is the first and only young rider to complete the ride. Edwards later explained that although it was sore, it was a great experience.

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Another participant, Mandy Latimore who is a quadriplegic, was one of the few riders who did both the Down and Up Runs, which added up to about 2,000 km. “It was really good, but tough, tiring, dusty, and hot,� said Latimore. Riding since 2008 on mainly a Grizzly quad bike, Latimore decided to change to a Side-by-side quad for the first time, as she wanted to complete both rides as comfortably as possible. Latimore rode with her friend, Sandra de'Oliviera from Rolling Inspiration, who battled cancer and won. Although Latimore experienced minor issues, such as her drive belt breaking and a few battery issues, she completed both runs in one piece and is proud to have done so.


Riders arriving at Carnival City.  

Speaking to Latimore was like a breath of fresh air because she was so positive about everything “No matter what your disability is, just focus on your abilities because anything is possible. I have scuba dived, sailed, and so much more; I'm not letting my disability stop me from doing things I enjoy. If someone is there to assist me, I'll do whatever I can.”

Another participant who was incredibly positive was Phil Case, who rode the Down Run in his Side-by-side quad that's specially made for him. While using his arms to ride the Side-by-side quad, the hand control pulled on the nerves in his hand during the long distance ride. Thankfully, it'll only take a month to heal. Something I didn't know, which Case explained to me is how “Quadriplegics can't sweat, so we can't regulate our body temperature. It's a huge issue, as we can easily get affected by heat exhaustion and by the time we realise it, it's too late.” Case added that the best remedy to control overheating is by pouring ice cold water down their backs.

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Quads 4Quads a huge success

Glenn Foley

Apart from being injured and struggling from the heat, Case thoroughly enjoyed the ride and was really happy to have participated, especially with his new team member, Alfie Cox. Case proudly spoke about Alfie being a part of his team (AKA Team Awesome) who helped with mechanical issues along the route. “No matter where we stopped, Alfie was there to help,” says Case.

When telling me what the highlight of the ride was, Seirlis immediately mentioned Louise Rode, his personal assistant for the last eight years. This year, Seirlis convinced Rode to participate in Quads4Quads, which Rode gladly accepted. “My best experience was seeing Louise achieve a personal goal of hers, which was to finish the ride - and she did,” says Seirlis.

Speaking of mechanical issues, Ari Seirlis, National Director of QASA, who rode the Down Run and parts of the Up Run, was happy to share a ride with one of his team members when their bike broke down. “We had three bikes, but one bike broke down. So it was a nice chance for them [team members] to experience this ride, as it's about the whole team,” said Seirlis.

Even though Corrine Andrews and Glenn Foley, the organisers, had been working extremely hard for more than ten days to make sure everything ran smoothly, they both had huge smiles and were full of energy throughout the event. When speaking on stage, Foley and all those involved showed huge appreciation towards all the sponsors, donors, and those who helped throughout the event.

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From left to right: Phil Care, Mandy Latimore, and Liam Edwards

The vibe at the finish was amazing. Although many had struggled with the heat and dust, everyone I spoke to had fantastic stories to tell. It was easy to see that fantastic route combined with the effort that Andrews, Foley, and Seirlis put in to make everyone who participated feel welcome and part of the family, are what makes this event so special and successful.

From the wise words of Mandy Latimore, for everyone out there in wheelchairs, "Life is for the living, make the most of it.�

The next Quads4Quads is taking place in 2014 and for more information, visit www.qasa.co.za. If you are interested in donating to QASA, then visit www.qasa.co.za/m_donations.php QASA is an organisation that strives to support the lives of quadriplegics and paraplegics in South Africa. QASA aims to prevent spinal cord injury, as well as protect the interests of people with mobility impairments. This association ensures the full potential and quality of quadriplegic and paraplegics' lives.

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