Joining hands for a ‘good oke’

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We sometimes take things in life for granted. It’s only a significant event that jolts us out of our complacency, reminding us that life is as unpredictable as a round of golf.

Once the bravado of booming drives and the eternal regret of the short putts that didn’t even touch the cup die down, we often forget to look at the bigger picture. Until, that is, that bigger picture seeks us out and reminds us how life, like a badly hit tee-shot, can take a path of its own.

On Wednesday, there was a poignant golf day at Mount Edgecombe, held on behalf of Jon Cole-Edwardes.

Jon, or “Space” as he was known at school and in cricketing circles around KwaZulu-Natal, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer a few months ago. It was a jolt, a significant speed bump in a life that was just taking shape, with “Space” having become a father to twins last November, and also playing his part in the lives of those less fortunate.

A true athlete, he had raised funds through various endurance races to install a borehole in a remote village of Malawi, to get water to those in desperate need. To borrow a phrase he often uses, Jon is a “good oke”.

And now, he is battling the biggest “Everest” he has ever seen. But, as he pointed out – and as was evidenced by Wednesday’s turn-out – he is not fighting alone. There are plenty of other “good okes”, mates from school, others from varsity and the club cricket scene, and from his church community, all doing their level best to help a friend, a brother and a father.

It never ceases to amaze how far friendships made on sports fields as youngsters go in life.

One of Jon’s good mates since childhood is one Kevin Pietersen (KP), who has been in the headlines lately for plenty of reasons.

But, away from the media glare, KP has been busy organising a golf day in London with a few buddies to help out and raise funds for the Jon Cole-Edwardes Trust. When one considers that KP’s circle includes the likes of Shane Warne, Sir Ian Botham and Piers Morgan, you begin to realise just how sizeable that contribution could be.

As soon as news of Jon’s diagnosis spread, his family was flooded with messages of support and pledges to assist. As is the adage on school fields, when you injure one, you injure all. In a room dominated by testosterone – and more than a whiff of whisky – there were plenty of lumpy throats when a video message from Jon was played at dinner.

After all, most of those in attendance have much in common with Jon, save for the savage challenge that lies ahead for him. A lot of us have young kids, and are already looking forward to cajoling our boys to their first try in a proper rugby match, or to see our little princesses steal the show in a musical one day.

The sight of Jon’s brood swarming over daddy, oblivious to the perilous present, hit everyone in that room hard, because it could so easily have been one of us in that position.

And that realisation got people thinking. And talking. This wasn’t Messrs Walker, Daniels and Jameson talking, but rather concerned citizens realising that we are the lucky ones, and we ought to be doing more for those in desperate need.

A professional cricketer pledged to become linked to a charity organisation, while a group of mates voiced an intention to start a trust of their own, which will help wherever they can. There were several others, all dead-set on doing their bit. And all the while, Jon is in our thoughts and prayers.

Cancer has chosen a formidable foe this time, but we all know that Jon will play this out with the straightest of bats.

Here’s to the good oke.


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