On the 25th of April 2016, Darryn August (28) from Athlone, Cape Town, was flung out of a moving train whilst trying to protect 2 women from a robbery. This morning commute to his job, where he worked as a facilitator, teaching life skills to high school students, would change his life indefinitely.
“I was the first person they wanted to rob, the person in their way. The ladies were hidden in the corner while they were busy with me. So inadvertently, I saved their lives by using myself as a decoy. 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” – says Darryn.
Darryn was hit over the head and beaten repeatedly. He was then flung out of the train carriage and found unconscious by a nearby tree. An heroic attempt to save two strangers from harm, left Darryn paralyzed from the waist down.
As the word got out, Darryn’s friend, Graeme Kuys, stumbled across a social media post, explaining what had happened to August. In an instant, Graeme knew he had to offer his assistance.
“I’m not a religious man but I am a man of faith and when God prompts you to do something, you do it! The Darryn I knew was so full of life and energy, you could barely restrain him in a chair for 10 minutes. He had given so much to others through educational programs and coaching and it was hard to think of him in a hospital bed struggling to come to terms with his injuries.” Says Graeme
A crowdfunding campaign was set up on BackaBuddy on the 6th of May 2016, in hopes to raise R50 000 towards Darryn’s medical fees. Graeme pledged to cycle laps of the Steenbras viewpoint, a total elevation of 8848m, equal to that of mount Everest. In a few short days, the initial R50k fundraising target was shattered, generating more than half a million for the local hero.
“I first attempted an ‘Everest’ on the Steenbras climb in 2015 and failed, so I had unfinished business with that mountain. I knew it was going to be brutally hard but I thought it would give people a great incentive to support Darryn.” Says Graeme
Graeme was joined by Wimpie Van der Merwe and Daryn Goldsbrough in completing the Everest. Sadly, a few short days after taking part in the Everest another cyclist, Alessandro Valperga passed away in a hit and run accident.
Even in his recovery, Darryn remained selfless and has no regrets.
“Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything as I believe that 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 women right after that day, it was a really emotional and overwhelming experience. I just wanted to make sure they were safe” – says Darryn.
Through generous donations, Darryn began his treatment at Tygerberg hospital where he stayed for over a month.
“The funds have been used sparingly, it’s been used to firstly get me the very best in health equipment in the forms of physical rehabilitation such as physiotherapy, electromagnetic stimulus, hydrotherapy and other non evasive treatments just to mention a few” – Says Darryn
After spending time at Tygerberg hospital, Darryn was transferred to Groote Schuur where he began physiotherapy.
“I was in hospital for roughly a month and then transferred to a rehabilitation facility. I spent two months there, I was supposed to stay longer but with my perseverance, I managed to leave a whole month earlier. That was a massive morale boost for me and my reward putting in extra training sessions alone” – says Darryn.
Darryn has made tremendous strides on his road towards recovery and longs for the day he can walk without crutches.
“Physically I’ve improved dramatically, as I’ve gotten more function and sensation from the level of injury down to my toes. My ability to walk with crutches has shown huge improvement, but it’s still a work in progress. It might take years before I’m actually fully able to walk without being fully dependent on my wheelchair” – says Darryn.
Despite his physical challenges, Darryn has maintained an unhindered positive outlook on life and has become taller in more ways.
“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” – says Darryn.
Darryn has not only spent the last 19 months focusing on his recovery. He has also remained active in his community as a motivational speaker.
“I’ve been focused on furthering my passion for youth development via facilitation and capacity building at NGO level through the Institute for Social Concerns (ISC), a not-for-profit, community based organization, working with children, youth and adults in underserved communities. I’d also love to start an initiative that raises more awareness about the disabled community. I feel not much is being done in South Africa to change perceptions around disability. I want to open the eyes of the world and help people see their potential. Just because I am in a wheelchair doesn’t mean I’m less “able” to do something” – says Darryn.
Darryn has also become more involved in sporting activities and has his sights set on the Paralympics.
“In the next few months I’ll be doing training to become apart of the paraplegic association at Stellenbosch University, where I’ll be training to do track and field events and hopefully be invited to represent SA at various events. My long-term goal, that has me excited, is to eventually become part of the national paraplegic team at the Olympic games!” – says Darryn.
Darryn would like to share this message with his supporters:
“I cannot emphasize these two words enough: THANK YOU ,THANK YOU ,THANK YOU .Your contributions have been life changing for me in every aspect of my life. I’m fortunate enough to have the best medical care possible, as well as live my life in the best possible manner, because of your contributions I’ve been given a second chance at life.” – says Darryn.
“As we approach the R50 million raised milestone for donations-based crowdfunding, it has given us an opportunity to revisit our most awe-inspiring stories. Darryn’s bravery and selflessness inspired the South African people and won’t easily be forgotten. ” – Zane Groenewald – BackaBuddy Marketing Officer.