Seventy executives, including a JSE team, recently completed a cycle tour to raise funds for worthy causes


The 2015 Change a Life Nyami Nyami Cycle Tour took place in early September over 500 km in the Zambezi River valley from Victoria Falls to Lake Kariba.

The fundraising cycle tour – organised by investor services company Computershare – has been held annually since 2008, with the goal of supporting worthy organisations that make a big difference in people’s lives.

Since its inception, the tour has been a great success. Participants have said that this year in particular it surpassed all expectations, with the route allowing them to travel from one of the world’s seven natural wonders to the largest man-made lake on the planet.

‘The tour this year was very tough – the distances were 123 km, 188 km and 225 km with lots of hills, and the conditions made it even more challenging as temperatures soared to 41°C,’ says Bernadette Rheeders, Legal Counsel for the JSE. However, she adds that although tough, the tour was extremely worthwhile and rewarding.

‘The motto of the tour is that everyone starts together and finishes together. We can only do that if everyone works together and helps each other – either by assisting the slower riders or offering words of encouragement when needed.

‘That is where the magic of this tour and its participants lies. There was amazing camaraderie and every single participant finished the tour, and in high spirits,’ says Rheeders.

Joining Rheeders as part of the JSE’s team participating in the six-day tour, was CEO Nicky Newton-King. Day 2 was sponsored by the JSE and the pain in the saddle was quickly soothed by a view of red carpets leading onto three luxurious houseboats as the cyclists approached their destination at Lake Kariba. Cyclists also experienced spectacular views and sunsets, wildlife and tigerfishing.

Together with donations from sponsors such as the JSE, Computershare pays for the costs associated with the tour, ensuring that each cyclist’s R40 000 entry fee goes directly to the projects supported by the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust.

Mike Thomson, a former employee of the JSE and Computershare executive, was murdered nearly a decade ago. Computershare then decided to turn this tragedy into something good, resulting in the Change a Life Cycle Tour.

Giving Back
‘The motto of the tour is that everyone starts together and finishes together. We can only do that if everyone works together and helps each other’

Now in its eighth year, the tour, which funds the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust, has raised more than R30 million and ploughed this money into the fight against crime. ‘We took something that was very sad and turned it into something positive,’ says Ursula du Plooy, executive director for sales, marketing and relationships at Computershare. The tour was supported by a back-up team of 60 Computershare staff who volunteered their time.

The best part of the tour is the spin-offs it has had for society. Money raised from the tours have been given to various organisations, which since then notched up considerable success. One of them is the DNA Project, which works to change legislation around the use of DNA in criminal detection and crime prevention in SA.

Another worthy organisation is the Martin Dreyer Change a Life Academy, which has helped transform the lives of former young offenders. This year Nhlanhla Cele – a member of the academy – won the 2015 Non-Stop Dusi Canoe event with partner Michael Mbanjwa.

Two Nemato Change a Life gymnasts and two of the project’s rowers were also selected for their respective SA national teams.

Vanessa Lynch, founder of the DNA Project, was appointed as deputy chair of the Oversight Committee of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act 2013, which she spent many years lobbying through Parliament.

‘The Change a Life tour is a win-win for everyone. It has not only changed the lives of beneficiaries but has also been a life-changing experience for some of the cyclists,’ says Du Plooy.

By Kim Cloete
Image: Gallo/GettyImages