• Mosibodi Whitehead

Walking for change - Leilani Kuter's story

There can be no denying the therapeutic benefits of exercise. Runners' High as it is fondly known is that feeling of deep joy that comes after a session of self-inflicted punishment of kilometre after kilometre. Many also report a clarity of thought that often eludes them during what can be a chaotic day of modern life. So when Leilani Kuter started walking after, she did it as part of her own journey of healing.


"My story begins on the 16th of September 1992 when I was raped and left for dead," she says as she begins to recount the harrowing tale. The then 18 year old Kuter was living in the NG Kerk Youth Centre in Pretoria when the ordeal took place. 27 years after the man called Frankie almost strangled the life out of her, the now 46-year old returned to the centre seeking closure.


Kuter enjoying one of her epic walks. Her NPC organisation is called Yellow For Survivors. She chose the colour yellow because the man who raped her wore a yellow t-shirt on the day of the ordeal. Photo Credit: Leilani Kuter.

"In April 2019 I returned to the Youth Centre and went back to the room where it all happened. When I left, I couldn't stop crying and that was the day I decided to start walking," she told #TheTopRunner. Kuter wanted to walk for change and be a voice against Gender-Based Violence. Exactly 28 years after she survived being raped, Kuter started on a 16 day 448km walking odyssey to raise funds for fellow GBV victims. The R280 000 she raised with that long distance walk was just the beginning because she raised another R250 000 with a similar walk last year.


"That was the day I realised why I didn't die - because I should have. I chose to walk for change. I like walking because you just put one foot in front of the other. I also like walking because it's symbolic. I often look back to see how far I have come and remind myself that is over. It's in the past and I must keep moving forward," she shared.


Kuter poses for a photo with Comrades Marathon legend Bruce Fordyce. Photo Credit: Leilani Kuter.

Ultimately the walking has been part of a greater journey of healing that has empowered Kuter to share her message and help other rape survivors. "I am so grateful to SPAR for their support. I would not have got here without them. I have shared the funds they have donated to me with other GBV organisations, while also starting self-defence classes and sharing my message in online videos," she says.


It is for that reason that Kuter is calling on all South Africans to enter the SPAR Women's Virtual Challenge because the R60 entry fee goes toward supporting similar worthy causes. Ultimately this amazing woman believes that healing (just like walking and running) should be done at one's own pace. "I am a happy person today because I gave myself time to heal. Be patient with your healing. Take your time. I'm lucky because I realised my purpose in life. I should have be dead, but here I am today. I am here for a reason which is to make a difference in the lives of others," she says.



Tune into SuperSport Variety this week as well as Showmax and DStv Now to be inspired by Kuter's story. Enter online at www.sparvirtualchallenge.co.za

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