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Chemistry lecturer closing in on fundraising target of R60 000 for student tuition
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Anél Lewis]
Published: 23/04/2024

After cycling a gruelling 600 km over six days with a torn hip labrum and the support of her four children – including her youngest who is just 12 years old - Dr Marietjie Lutz, a first-year chemistry lecturer at Stellenbosch University (SU), is closing in on her target of raising R60 000 to help fund undergraduate students facing financial challenges.

The fundraising initiative was inspired by one of Lutz's former first-year students, Blessed Muyanga, who despite his financial challenges and personal challenges managed to pass first-year chemistry with an above 75% average. “He showed true grit," says Lutz. His dedication to pursue his studies despite adversity spurred her to embark on the “Wheels of Opportunity" initiative to help other students in similar circumstances to achieve academic goals.

Muyanga is delighted that Lutz completed the challenge. “You know that I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you. My situation pushed me to be strong and to look to God for inspiration. Having you and my small circle of friends helped me to get this far and I will remain eternally grateful for that."

Lutz was joined on her cycle from George to Stellenbosch by her sons and daughter. The eldest, Ben (20), cycled 600 km to raise R10 000, her daughter, Isabel, (15), a learner at Hoër Meisieskool Bloemhof, cycled 500 km to raise R5 000 while her youngest, 12-year-old Daniël who is at Laerskool Eikestad, put foot to pedal for 200 km to raise R2 000 for the cause. The second eldest, Jan (18), drove the backup van during the whole journey.

Her husband, Daniël (senior), was responsible for the planning and mapping of the route, which included travelling on gravel roads through Oudtshoorn, Calitzdorp, Riversdal, Swellendam and Greyton to Stellenbosch. “We travelled on roads one would not otherwise see if travelling this route by car."

The family encounter several challenges during the ride, including a close encounter with an energetic kudu, a broken derailleur gear unit, multiple mountain passes adding to the more than 1 000 m of climbing every day and scorching temperatures of more than 40°C, facing strong headwinds. But they persevered.

 Of the decision to fundraise with a cycle tour, Lutz says: “I love mountain biking and I love my students, so this was a good way to combine both." Having her family join her for parts of the journey added to the experience and she is particularly proud of the younger two for clocking up their kilometres for a good cause.

But the feat would not have been possible without the support of her family, and local businesses such as Flandria Cycles that serviced their bicycles, Adventureshop that helped with the route mapping and Eendracht Hotel and Apartments were also on board sponsoring the backup van and accommodation along the route.

Daniël (senior) is already planning next year's fundraising cycle, says Lutz. “We hope that this initiative serves as an example to other academics, staff and students who may want to do something similar."

Newly appointed dean of the Faculty of Science, Prof Burtram Fielding, commended Lutz on her initiative. “I am sure this, and the story of Blessed, will inspire other students to find ways to help fund their studies. I am also impressed with Dr Lutz's efforts to tackle 600 km for this worthy cause. She has already raised over R38 000 and now she needs our help to get over the R60 000 target."

  • To support the "Wheels of Opportunity" initiative, interested individuals can donate through the GivenGain platform .
  • For those interested in participating or supporting the cause in any alternative manner, contact her directly at