Tuesday, August 28, 2012


When Karin and I started the facebook page for MSA in South Africa, Magda Erlank was the first patient to contact us.  We have become MSA buddies since then.  A couple of weeks ago her daughter, Amanda, invited us to a birthday party for Magda, where I was privileged to meet the friendly Erlank family.

The Erlanks; Linda, Hennie and Amanda

Magda was initially diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2005 and then with MSA (Multiple System Atrophy) in 2009.

Me and Magda

Amanda, with the help of her sister, Linda, has taken the initiative to organise a group of cyclists to participate in the annual ARGUS CYCLE TOUR.  This 109 km tour is the largest timed event in the world, attracting more than 35 000 cyclist from around the globe.  The well organised tour winds its way around the beautiful scenery of the Cape Peninsula and takes place in March every year.

As a family the Erlanks have first hand experience of the general lack of knowledge in the medical and care services of MSA.  This tour will firstly serve to create awareness, and equally important, to raise funds for research.

Amanda invites cyclist to dedicate their ride in the 2013 ARGUS to MSA.  The cost would be a little more than the normal entry fee, but will include a cycle top, as well as a contribution to http://www.msatrust.org.uk/ .  There is currently no treatment to stop the progression, or a cure for this disease.  Your contribution will go for research in this field. 

As no research is being done in South Africa, the cycle shirt will bear the logo of this UK based trust. 

The package is as follow:

Cycle top (Rapid Sport)
- but please remember we are trying to raise awareness)
R1100 (incl. top)

The Argus is famous for its carnival atmosphere and offers a unique experience for the participants.  It will take place on the 10th March 2013.

Please consider it carefully and remember “A burden shared is a burden halved”.
We are riding so that people can start minding.

To register a group Amanda needs to hear from you before 22 SEPTEMBER 2012.  Please FORWARD this invitation to your friends.  


Amanda Erlank
083 444 3735


Linda Erlank
079 2755 100

Thursday, August 23, 2012

3200 KM LATER!

The Camino has been a very positive experience for me and reporting on the progress of the hikers kept me busy and filled my days with joy.  As they returned the stories of their many wonderful experiences started to unfold, and I was overwhelmed by hundreds of photos. It has been a life changing experience for them that has touched them in many and different ways.

Eddie Waring hiked 900 km from St Jean Pied de Port in France, past Santiago to Finisterre on the north west coast of Spain.  Emilene Ferreira hiked 800 km from St Jean to Santiago.  Susan Albertyn, Esther Nieder-Heitmann and Gerda de Villiers started their pilgrimage at Burgos, bus-hopped a 100 km before Leon, but hiked the extra 100 km from Santiago to end at Finisterre.  Each of them completed 500 km.  And the grand total walked by the five hikers is… drum roll here please… 3200 km!  I will be adding this with great pride and joy to this years ‘A MILE AND A CANDLE FOR MSA’ project.

Susan, Gerda, Nancy Powers and Esther

They have made friends on The Way, some of which have been in contact with me since. One such person, Nancy Hill Powers left a message on our MSA facebook page saying that she admired the conviction of my friends, and inspired by them, she wrote about their encounter on her blog.

The tag, here on Gerda's backpack

The tags that the hikers attached to their backpacks drew the attention of fellow hikers on numerous occasions.  They’d notice the tag one a hiker, and then days later on another hiker at a different location.  Questions followed that created opportunities for our hikers to talk about MSA and hand out their mini flyers.  At some stage they were questioned by a group of school children.  At other times they shared their story of our friendship on a more intimate level whilst spending a quiet hour or two walking alongside another pilgrim. 

Our friend, Ermanno Aiello, author of the book ‘Forever a Pilgrim’, and his lovely wife Lia, invited all who were involved with this project to a post-Camino get together at the restaurant on Vergelegen, one of the beautiful and historic wine estates in our area.  Although Eddie hasn’t returned from his travels, and Gerda had another engagement, the rest of us spent an unforgettable morning together.  Many heart warming stories were told, the food was great, and the people were extraordinary.  Thank you for this wonderful treat Ermanno and Lia. 

At the back; Frans Albertyn, Jan and Esther Nieder-Heitmann, Oscar Ferreira, Johnny van Rhyn, Lia and Ermanno Aiello, Emilene Ferreira, Hugh Holtzhausen. Front; Susan Albertyn, me, Karin Holtzhausen

Although this wonderful experience as come to an end, I suspect that we will be talking Camino stories for some time to come.  I am also looking forward to the promise of a typical Spanish pilgrim’s meal here at my home in the very near future.  

Something so fulfilling naturally leaves quite a void when it draws to an end…but MSA Day is coming up soon...and there is some talk of an exciting project next year...

Some of the hearts seen on the Camino by Susan

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