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Record number of Maties cyclists tackle Cape Town Cycle Tour to raise at least R350 000
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Anél Lewis]
Published: 01/03/2024

​A record number of 70 cyclists will be moving for Maties in need during the Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday 10 March.

Lead by Prof Wim de Villiers, Stellenbosch University (SU) Rector and Vice-Chancellor, the group of alumni, staff, students and friends of the University hopes to each raise at least R5 000 for #Move4Food, one of the priority initiatives that form part of the University's Bridge the Gap fundraising campaign.

Combined, the efforts of this intrepid group of veteran and newbie cyclists could raise at least R350 000 to help hungry SU students who may not have the financial resources to cover their food costs while they are on campus.

While in the past, participants taking part in the event to raise funds for the University used to be able to choose their own cause, the dire need to support students grappling with food security led to the decision to concentrate the cycle tour's fundraising efforts in Move4Food. “The need for support keeps growing each year. This year alone at least 5 000 students are silently battling hunger," explained Alwin Mabuza of SU Development and Alumni Relations, “and we want to change that."

Speaking at the official jersey handover ceremony this week, Mabuza added that the student-led campaign is one of the ways in which SU can provide immediate relief for hungry students. Viwe Benxa, Alumni Participation Coordinator, shared some of the stories of students who have benefitted from the campaign in recent years. “Poverty is not a choice, and Move4Food is the reason why we can still smile and retain our dignity," reported one of the beneficiaries.

The number of SU cyclists taking part for a worthy cause has grown from five a few years ago to a substantial 70 participants. “Next year, we aim for 100," quipped De Villiers, who will take part in 2025 for the last time as Rector and Vice-Chancellor as his term ends. A veteran of the 109 km event, Prof De Villiers shared sage advice for the debutants encountering Suikerbossie for the first time. “You are going to be having a lot of fun while doing good. When you go up Suikerbossie, just start singing. Soon, others will join and that, as well as the shouts of 'Go Maties', will carry you through." Admitting to having not done much training, he said he was hopeful that “muscle memory" would carry him over the line.

Brandon Como, SU Event and Security Operations Officer, agreed that the spectators' cheers would help tired legs keep moving. “Also, hearing shouts of Move4Food during the race are a reminder that there is a bigger cause behind you." Ferdinand Mettler of the Stellenbosch Business School is cycling to raise funds for the Future Fund, which supports postgraduate students with bursaries. Admitting that he is “one of those cyclists who gets a push up Suikerbossie", he said knowing the hard work was for a worthy cause made the efforts worthwhile. “We want to make a difference."

First-time participants and postgraduate students Siphiwe Phetla and Tendani Tshauambea said they're taking part as their way of “paying it forward." Both have firsthand experience of the difference #Move4Food can make in the lives of students in need. “This is my way of giving back, as I too have received support from SU," said Tshauambea. While nervous about the daunting 109 kms that await him in less than two weeks' time, Phetla said he was looking forward to completing the race “for a greater cause".

Ferdi van Dyk, Alumni Participation Manager, said he was pleased to see the growing popularity of the fundraising event. “We want to build a culture of Maties making a difference on campus."