Jades Sky Hike – record number

Jade Sky High hike Ryan Berry Sue Hudson Stephanie Berry  Peter Hudson

Ryan Berry, Sue Hudson, Stephanie Berry and Peter Hudson.

A record two hundred hikers met in sub-zero conditions at the base of Sani Pass on Sunday, 16th June to participate in this year’s Jade Sky Hike. The hike was to remember those who lost their lives to cancer and to celebrate with those cancer-survivors whilst raising awareness and much needed funds for The Sunflower Fund.

Organisers Ian and Mandy Tyrer initiated this hike in 2007 to raise funds for eight year old Jade Preston who was diagnosed with leukaemia. Sadly Jade lost her battle, but the event continues to be an annual tribute to her. The route started at the South African Sani Pass border post and to the very top of the breath taking Sani Pass Lesotho border post and back. The Midlands 4×4 Club seconded the walkers along the way, supplying tired participants with water and energy drinks.

The only requirements were a passport and a minimum of R50 donation. Hikers, wearing Sunflower Fund branded beanies sponsored by local farmers Chris and Karen Dwen, braved the freezing conditions as they ascended the 1000m climb. Despite the icy conditions the amazing scenery was captured on camera and many new friendships were formed.

The Sunflower Fund would like to thank The Midlands 4×4 Club, Parklane Spar, Hilton Quarry Spar, McCarthy Toyota Pietermaritzburg, Halfway Toyota Howick, Foodpak, Workwear Depot, O & S Electrical, Howick Lions, Tetra Radios and other sponsors for supplying and selling bacon and egg rolls at the start and halfway mark, raising an amazing R4000 for The Fund and a big thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Jade Sky Hike.

This year the organisers raised a record R20 000 which will be used to tissue type new bone marrow stem cell donors for inclusion on the South African Bone Marrow Registry. The more donors on the Registry the more hope children and adults diagnosed with leukaemia have of finding their 1:100 000 donor match.

Many people are not aware that it only takes two test tubes of blood to join the Registry and that if you are a perfect donor match for a leukaemia patient, bone marrow is not surgically removed.  The process to donate bone marrow stem cells is much like donating blood but can take 4 – 6 hours.

“It costs The Sunflower Fund R2 000 to test the blood of every person who joins the Registry. If you are able to donate towards the cost of the test it is much appreciated otherwise donors can ask to be sponsored by The Sunflower Fund. They will then be placed on a waiting list”, explains Stephanie Berry, PR Manager for The Sunflower Fund in KwaZulu Natal.

It is very unlikely that a patient will find a donor match outside their ethnic group so in South African we need to recruit at least 100 000 donors from each of the four prominent ethnic group (black, coloured, indian and white). Currently there are only 65 500 donors on the Registry.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 45, weigh over 50kgs with a BMI of <30 and no history of sexually transmitted diseases and would like to find out more about becoming a bone marrow stem cell donor to help anyone suffering from a life-threatening blood disorder please contact The Sunflower Fund toll free 0800 12 10 82, weekdays between 8.30am and 4.30pm or visit www.sunflowerfund.org.za