ELANA Hanekom has never been able to walk but now, thanks to a group of Despatch bikers, the five- year-old may soon be learning to take her first steps.
Born eight weeks prematurely when doctors were forced to perform an emergency caesarean, Elana’s lungs collapsed the following day. As a result, her brain was starved of oxygen which affected the motor neurons in her legs. Two year later, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Touched by her story, Despatch’s Workshop Motorcycle Crew took it upon themselves to help the struggling family to buy a R15000 Irish-designed contraption called an Upsee, to help her walk.
“I was so overwhelmed by emotion when the bikers said they wanted to help. We want to buy Elana an Upsee, because we were told that despite the part of the brain which is used for walking being permanently damaged, you can teach the brain to make a new way to cope,” mom Zena said.
“The Upsee works by placing Elana in a harness strapped to an adult with her feet sharing the same boots as the adult, and she then mimics the act of walking. In that way she re-teaches her brain the act of walking, essentially rewiring it.”
The Crew’s president, Danie van Wyk, said they had already raised about R5000 through donations from the club’s 40 members and small fundraising drives during the year.
“Every year we take on a new project. We started a little late with Elana, having only found out about her story recently. But we had no choice but to help this beautiful and innocent little girl,” Van Wyk said.
“This is a struggle which touched all of the bikers’ hearts. In the past we have helped other people with blankets, food, and so on. But to be able to fight for something like giving a little girl the ability to walk is a different type of special.”
Zena said she and her husband, Elandre, would have battled without the help of the Uitenhage and Despatch community.
“So many people have already done so much for us and we want to thank them all. To know our little girl who hasn’t walked, sat up straight or crawled on her own since she was born, might finally be able to do it all is incredible,” Zena said.
The Workshop Motorcycle Crew’s 20th annual rally will be held at the Springs Resort outside Uitenhage in October, with proceeds also going towards the Upsee.
Anyone wishing to assist the family can contact Danie van Wyk on 079-165-0790. – Tremaine van Aardt