By FOCUS REPORTER
By making every one of the 900 kilometres in the Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c count, a pair of intrepid mountain bikers will be giving underprivileged children a sporting chance.
The Riding for Boots initiative – the brainchild of Andrew Klinkert and Brent Henegan from the Randburg-area in Johannesburg – aims to collect a pair of new or used soccer, hockey or rugby boots for every kilometre of the nine-day race, which starts in Heidelberg on April 29.
Klinkert said it was all about bringing down the socio-economic barriers and helping to get “kids involved in sport”. “The race is the perfect vehicle to generate awareness and from that the spinoffs will start to happen.”
Although cycling is Klinkert’s passion, it was as a spectator at his eight-year-old son’s soccer matches that the idea first began to percolate.
“At these tournaments, you see these little guys from Soweto coming off the field and giving their boots to the substitute because there aren’t enough pairs to go round,” said Klinkert.
Klinkert said he could see the positive impact of sport on the lives of children and that donating boots was “a simple, real and immediate way to make a difference”.
Despite being forced to withdraw from the actual ride, Klinkert remains the driving force behind the project. Henegan, meanwhile, has found a new riding partner in Alan Broderick, with whom he has been training for the past few months.
Henegan said he had been mountain biking for four years and loved testing his limits, so the concept of a multi-stage race appealed to him. “To ride for a purpose was all Andrew’s idea.”
He said it was extremely important to expose people to the concept of charitable giving. According to Henegan, one of the biggest pitfalls was that people believed their individual contributions to be insignificant, when in fact their collective efforts could bring about real change.
Henegan said if every one of the 600 cyclists taking part in the race donated a second hand pair of boots, they would be substantially closer to their goal.
“Why stop at boots? Instead of selling your child’s bicycle for a couple of hundred rand, you could donate it and give some future star, who would never have had the chance, the opportunity to ride.”
Henegan said he and Klinkert were in negotiations with potential corporate sponsors about acting as collection points for the initiative. “We are also looking for a celebrity or sportsperson to champion the cause.”
He invited communities along the route – which runs from Heidelberg south of Johannesburg, across the Free State to Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal coast – to get involved.
Fairbairn Capital general manager Stuart Loxton said Riding for Boots was yet another example of why the company sponsored the joBerg2c event.
“It’s not just about sponsoring a cycle race – it’s also about inspiring individuals to excel beyond the usual in order to discover that which is truly great.”
Loxton said it was gratifying to know that Fairbairn Capital’s sponsorship created a platform for many charitable projects such as this.
To find out more about the Riding for Boots initiative, contact Andrew Klinkert on 082 888 3102 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Brent Henegan on 082 447 0060 or email@example.com.