She may not have taken part in last week’s Tour d’ Plain, but Naaziyah Manuel, 11, a Grade 6 pupil at Kenwyn Primary School, was up at the crack of dawn to join friends and family at the starting line.
Nearly 1 200 riders braved the early morning chill to line up for the second edition of the community cycle tour that started at Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital and finished at Strandfontein Pavilion, on Sunday May 1.
The chilly weather could not dampen the spirit of the participants who tackled the 20km and 50km events.
Although not a timed race, the event attracted beginner and competitive riders. The tour also aimed to promote awareness around cancer with the Sunflower Fund being its main beneficiary.
This is what connected the young girl, her mother Zerina and the rest of their family to Sunday’s event.
Diagnosed with cancer in February, Naaziyah is currently on her fourth round of chemotherapy.
She woke up early on Sunday because she wanted to show support to her uncle, Buddy Manuel, her grandfather Jamiel Amien and his brother, Naziem, who took part in the 50km race to create awareness about young children living with cancer.
Naaziyah has not attended school since her treatment started.
“It’s difficult to remain positive because I can’t do the one thing that I love best which is school but my parents helped me to get my confidence back,” said Naaziyah, who is due for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, next week.
Meanwhile, event organiser Ashwin de Klerk said the main purpose of this event is to promote cycling, create awarenes about cancer and to send out a message to communities that if you put your mind to something that you can host something successful,” he said.
He also credits Naaziyah for coming out in the cold to help serve coffee and snacks to the cyclists at the start of the race.
“The riders appreciated the early morning snack before the race. This in itself shows that this event has already created a huge impact on people’s lives. More school clubs also participated in the tour,” he said.