‘Ride to read ’ rewards

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Man cycles 1550km to get books for poor

EAST London-born motivational speaker Lindsay van der Byl cycled from the Union Buildings in Pretoria to parliament in Cape Town last month as a way of encouraging young people to read .

His challenge served as a reading awareness campaign, whereby South African citizens were asked to follow the progress of his journey through various mediums including print, television, radio and social media. These platforms were then used to request donations of one or more reading books.

The intended end result of the programme is to donate all the books to a Eastern Cape village where there is no library or other reading facilities.

The 30-year-old who had, before February this year, never cycled more than 5km at a time, did the 1550km ride in 12 days comprising nine days of cycling and three days of rest.

“It has been my desire for the last two years to assist in decreasing the levels of illiteracy, not only among the youth but also the elderly, some of whom can’t even read or write their own names,” Van der Byl said.

“Members of these types of settlements sometimes have to walk four hours or 50km to get to a library or a similar institution – if they’re lucky.”

He said the ride was tough but that it became harder when he hit his destination province of the Western Cape.

WHEELS FOR WORDS: East Londoner Lindsay van der Byl, now in Johannesburg, recently returned from cycling from Pretoria to Cape Town as a reading awareness campaign. The ride was also to raise funds to buy books for rural communities in the Eastern Cape.
WHEELS FOR WORDS: East Londoner Lindsay van der Byl, now in Johannesburg, recently returned from cycling from Pretoria to Cape Town as a reading awareness campaign. The ride was also to raise funds to buy books for rural communities in the Eastern Cape.

“The wind hit me like crazy but the people along the way were amazing. It was tough, but I believe this is a cause that was absolutely worth it,” he said.

Van der Byl has also had his fair share of life’s problems. He started drinking alcohol at age 10 and by 12 was already experimenting with recreational drugs.

However, an alcohol poisoning incident at age 16 led him to take a bet with a friend that he will abstain from any substance abuse for six months. And after successfully completing the bet, he decided that he had already stopped, and had managed to save himself a lot of trouble – and money.

He is also a youth coach for the Sbusiso Leope Education Foundation. The foundation is an award winning non-profit organisation. Great success has been achieved under the chairmanship of founder and popular TV and radio personality DJ Sbu, a Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2013 nominee, kwaito singer and businessman.

The foundation team visits underprivileged schools and gives motivational talks about the importance of education and living a positive lifestyle.

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