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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Madoko Ndhlovu raises funds for wheelchairs by running 400km from Pretoria to Makhado in 5 days

By the time the sun sets today a group of eight runners will be have arrived in Polokwane after leaving the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday. This five day charity run is being led by legendary Comrades Bus Driver Madoko Ndhlovu in an effort to raise funds to buy three specialized wheelchairs for cerebral palsy pupils at the Tshilwavhusiku School in Makhado. The 400km odyssey is the brainchild of Vincent Matlhamela who says he decided to take the initiative and use his running to better the lives of the disable in his village in Venda.

Ndhlovu and the runners start the journey leaving the Union Buildings on Freedom Day. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

"I looked around at the way the disabled a treated in my village and realised that these kids are confined to their homes. Parents keep the disabled children indoors, so I thought this charity drive could allow them to be mobile and go outdoors with their own wheelchairs," he told #TheTopRunner in front of Madiba's nine meter high bronze statue as the sun rose over the nation's capital on Freedom Day.

Vincent (far left in blue t-shirt) sets off with Madoko and the rest of the runners on the 400km journey. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

"Vincent approached me in 2019 and told me about this idea," says Madoko. The veteran of almost 20 Comrades Marathon races was initially surprised by what he thought was a crazy proposal. "I said to him: Vincent you want to run home, do you know how far is home? And he said yes. So we started planning," he explains.

The arrangements were made culminating in a joyful sendoff on day one where over 100 runners joined Madoko and Vincent as they set off on the 80km first leg from Tshwane to Bela Bela. As has become the hallmark of the Madoko Training Camp runs, singing and dancing along the road followed a prayer as Ndhlovu thanked all for their support under the gently fluttering national flag.

Runners pray before setting off on Freedom Day. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

At a cost of R25 000 each the three specialized wheelchairs are not cheap and Ndhlovu says they need more donations to reach their R75 000 target. "It's all about giving from the heart. I come from a bigger family where we had to learn to share. We need more donations and we will continue to take contributions even after the event," he said. He also thanked those who made their pledges at especially Rethuseng Live Line and Services who are expected contribute the lion's share of the required funding.

The runners are expected to arrive in Makhodo on Worker's Day, but before that they must tackle day three today which is a punishing 90km march in the Limpopo heat from Mokgopong to Polokwane where they are hoping to be welcomed by the city's executive mayor. Thankfully the runners are refreshed and ready to tackle stage three after spending the night at the Euphoria Golf Estate in what was formerly Naboomspruit last night where they were pampered on the hotel's account.

Good luck to Madoko Ndhlovu, Vincent Matlhamela, Tshepo Malapane, Jacob Lekhafola, Tobias Ndou, Lehlogonolo Letsoalo, Kwena Mothlono and James Mpanyane.

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