Life of purpose after injury
A CAPE Town man who lost his mobility after being tossed out of a train while helping strangers is determined to be part of the national paraplegic athletics team.
“I’ll be doing training to become a part of the paraplegic association at Stellenbosch University, where I’ll be training to do track and field events and hopefully be invited to represent South Africa at various events,” Darryn August said.
August, who used to be a teacher and is now a motivational speaker, was trying to save two women from robbers on a train in April last year. However, the robbers repeatedly beat him and then threw him out of the moving train.
So severe were his injuries that he became paralysed from the waist down.
“I made a promise to myself ages before that day that if ever I saw anyone in a dangerous situation, I’d do whatever I can to help, come what may,” he said.
August’s friend Graeme Kuys found out what had transpired and decided to offer his assistance, especially since he knew August as someone who was full of energy and could barely be constrained to a chair.
Crowd-funding organisation BackaBuddy set up a campaign in May last year to raise R50 000 towards August’s medical fees. Kuys pledged to cycle laps of the Steenbras Dam Viewpoint in the Western Cape to support his friend, a collective distance of 8 848m, which is the equivalent of Mount Everest’s elevation.
Within a few days, the initial R50 000 target was surpassed, and more than R500 000 was raised.
Kuys was joined by Wimpie van der Merwe and Daryn Goldsbrough in completing the cycle. Sadly, a few days after the race, another cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run accident
Through donations, August began the required treatment and rehabilitation at Tygerberg Hospital and began physiotherapy at Groote Schuur Hospital, which he managed to finish a month before the prescribed time. He now yearns for the day he can walk without crutches.
“I’ve become much stronger in so many ways. Physically, I am different, but I’m not physically or mentally weakened.
“I have a more focused outlook on life, and I see life differently now. It feels like I have a greater, more meaningful purpose in life, and the path I’m on now was never the one I imagined for myself,” said August, adding that he had been focused on a variety of NGO projects and initiatives to raise awareness about the disabled community.
Even in his recovery, August remained selfless and had no regrets.
“Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything as I believe everything happens the way it’s suppose to. I managed to impact someone else’s life in some way. I was fortunate to meet the two women soon after that day; it was an emotional and overwhelming experience. I just wanted to make sure they were safe,” he said.
DETERMINED: Darryn August was thrown off a moving train last year during an attack. Being paralysed from the waist down hasn’t lessened his zest for life.