South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA) CEO, Stefan Terblanche, and Rugby Legend Justin Swart may have retired from rugby, but they still work hard at staying in peak physical condition. And their strength and stamina were much needed on Monday, 6 July 2020, when they undertook an extremely physical rowing challenge to raise funds for a great cause as part of the #RugbyUnites initiative.
Four-year-old Liam Scott suffers from neuroblastoma – a rare and aggressive cancer. One day after the birth of their baby girl, Kylie, Liam’s parents, South Africans Claire and Michael Scott, went to the Royal Marsden hospital in London, where they were in-formed of Liam’s devastating diagnosis. Liam started chemotherapy that night.
He has been undergoing treatment at the Royal Marsden Hospital for the past year. And when this treatment finishes on 30 August, Liam needs to fly to New York for an experimental vaccine that is only available in the United States. Without the vaccine, the aggressive cancer is likely to return, and his chances of survival will be very slim.
In order to make the trip and get the necessary treatment, Claire and Michael have been working hard to raise the £232,000 they need to cover the costs. Having gained some great coverage from Sky and the BBC in England, they are now calling on South Africa to help, too. With just £25 000 to go, they are almost there.
Ex-Dagenham and Redbridge footballer, Charlie Holmes, took to a treadmill, running 10 miles a day for 14 consecutive days in aid of Liam’s cause, and raised the bulk of the funds needed. On Monday, 6 July, Charlie kayaked the English Channel to raise the remaining amount, even though his only rowing experience was rowing once in a school race on a river. Liam’s father Michael joined Charlie on his epic journey.
In South Africa, Rugby Legends Stefan Terblanche and Justin Swart, joined by rowing legend Hank McGregor – an 11-time world marathon champion, 11-time Berg river Ca-noe Marathon champion and multiple Molokai Challenge winner – took on a similar waterborne challenge.
Justin Swart is no stranger to rowing either, having finished 14 Duzis, 6 Cape Points and 3 PE to East London paddling events, the Drak Challenge and 9 Fish River Canoe Marathons. Justin and Stefan also teamed up for a Duzi Canoe Marathon in 2019. They were joined by a few other top South African skiers and canoeists, all rowing to get sponsors and individuals to pledge money to Liam’s cause.
Starting at 05:30 on Monday morning, the intrepid rowers traversed Durban’s famed Golden Mile stretch of beachfront, circuit style, in one-hour increments. The rowers completed the equivalent distance that Charlie and Michael rowed across the channel (36km). And the challenge was a gruelling one, as a strong Easterly wind blew in around midday and neither Justin nor Stefan had done any specific training for the event.
Stefan Terblanche says, “Liam’s fundraising efforts are so close to where they need to be, and we hope that this final push will get him to the States as soon as possible. We all want to see Liam make a full recovery and live a long, happy life. It really was a huge bonus to have someone of Hank’s stature join us in doing this, too and we’re sure that having him join the cause will make a big difference. Thank you to everyone who has taken up this worthy challenge.”
To contribute to this great cause and help Liam’s parents get him the treatment he needs, visit the fundraising page here.
To stay up to date with news about SARLA’s continued efforts to support local communities, follow the SA Rugby Legends on.