Our Members - Their Stories
Yasmin’s ride for Kiwis living with CP
28 Jun 2023
Cycling the length of NZ was an opportunity to share her brother’s story.
By Melanie Louden
Yasmin Wessels makes her way onto 90 Mile Beach on the first day of her eight week trip.
Wrong turns, early starts and long days, steep hills, long hills, sandflies, mud, driving rain, a frozen tent, feeling alone and isolated.
It may not sound appealing, but for Yasmin Wessels it was all part of an eight-week mission to cycle the length of New Zealand, raising money for the Cerebral Palsy Society.
Forget about the lows, says Yasmin – there were plenty more highs to treasure.
From seeing amazing landscapes, stunning sunrises and unbelievable views to meeting lovely people, overcoming fears and anxieties, and learning to trust herself.
The icing on the cake was raising $4225 for the Cerebral Palsy Society along the way.
Yasmin, 21, is a self-confessed lover of anything adventurous and outdoorsy and decided to cycle from Cape Reinga all the way to Bluff in honour of her older brother Matthew, 22, who lives with Cerebral Palsy.
Yasmin and her brother Matthew.
The Hamilton woman set off on March 9 and had company for a few legs of the journey, but did most of it solo. She slept in a tent at campgrounds and occasionally enjoyed the comfort of a bed at a friends’ house.
Before she set off, she wrote: “My brother’s physical abilities are affected by his disability which makes sports challenging for him. However, he never let that get to him.
“He always participated in sports, and although he knew he wasn’t as ‘good’ as the other students he always tried.
“I think to be so resilient and have that sort of grit at such a young age is a testament to his character. He has taught me that although his road may be different and might take longer than most, anything is possible when you put your mind to it.”
Yasmin knew she’d need a large supply of resilience and grit, “two things that many young Kiwis with this disability have to show every day”, to finish the journey.
There’s no doubt some days were tougher than others, but she says that only served to remind her of what she was doing, and why.
“I want to push myself to breaking point, to challenge myself and push my comfort zone, to have to dig deep and fight for something that doesn’t come easy – much like people with Cerebral Palsy,” she wrote on her Facebook page Inspired by my Brother.
From left, Yasmin got used to cooking for one. Yasmin is all smiles on the bridge just below Haast Pass (the steepest hill she went up during the entire trip). With her childhood friend Megan Maslin, left, by her side, Yasmin made it to Bluff.
“They have to push through more barriers than most. Life’s not easy but when you’re born with a disability it can make things a whole lot harder.
“Unlike the pain I feel during this journey – I can choose to stop. I can stop the pain and discomfort if I really want to. But people born with Cerebral Palsy ….. don’t have the same luxury. Cerebral Palsy doesn’t stop for them. It’s lifelong.”
After she reached Bluff, Yasmin wrote: “It still doesn’t quite feel real that I’ve done it. I’ve met so many amazing people and had some of the best times during this ride (but also some not so fun times too) which I will remember forever.
“This ride was tougher than I imagined but I think that’s why it’s so special.
“It wouldn’t feel so rewarding if it was easy.”
Cerebral Palsy Society General Manager Clare Williams says Yasmin’s efforts are incredible.
“The awareness she raised and the donations she gathered are just amazing.
“We couldn’t be more grateful for the brave and inspiring way she decided to support her brother and Kiwis living with Cerebral Palsy. Thank you, Yasmin.”
This article was originally published in the May to August 2023 edition of The Review magazine.
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