For paralysed Mark Charlesworth, the Discovery East Coast Radio Big Walk will be the equivalent of the Comrades Marathon. Duncan Guy
Durban - Climbing Moses Mabhida Stadium might seem a tougher feat than walking 5km along the promenade.

But the opposite is the case for Mark Charlesworth, who has been paralysed since his neck was snapped in three places in a car crash.

He climbed the arch of the iconic stadium in 2012 with the help of a mobile handrail after a friend annoyed him with a comment that he wouldn’t be able to do it.

The structure will be in his sights next month when he takes part in the 5km Discovery East Coast Radio Big Walk, a challenge he expects to complete in five to seven hours, with the help of a walker.

“The walk will be more challenging than the arch. The stadium was steep but I have a fair bit of arm power. I don’t have leg power,” he said this week on a visit to the promenade at South Beach, where the walk will start.

He is also vulnerable in the heat, and his blood pressure can spike easily.

“And I can fall over easily,” he said.

Charlesworth, 53, has been training six hours a day, walking laps in an indoor track.

“It’s the equivalent of training for the Comrades Marathon. It’s going to be one hell of a walk,” he said.

Charlesworth puts his achievements down to his stubbornness and his refusal to believe that he is paralysed.

“I have carried on with my job, buying and selling Porsches and their spares. I am lucky, because all I need for that is my hands and my mouth, not like people who are mechanics or jockeys.

“My girlfriend at the time of my accident married me afterwards and is now my wife, Tarryn.

“And I still live in the house we had just built in Assegai. The only change we had to make was to take the door off the shower.”

He stressed that it was important to focus on how lucky one was.

“Be grateful for what you’ve got,” he said.

Charlesworth hopes that his taking part in the May19 walk will make other disabled people feel comfortable about participating.

His car crash happened back in 2014 when the car he was driving, alone, hit a wet patch in the road in the Waterfall area and flipped backwards.

He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

After two operations, Charlesworth has never given up.

“Doctors often say that after two years you’ve got what you’ve got.”

His physiotherapist, Mary Rudd, believes she and Charlesworth have disproved that, as he has made small strides, like being able to lift his left foot.

Charlesworth will walk to raise funds for a handful of charities: the QuadPara Association of SA; the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund, for rugby players with spinal injuries; St Giles Association for the Handicapped; Voluntary Emergency Medical Assistance, the organisation that rescued him after his accident; and the Highway Hospice. Charlesworth wants to help the hospice after having also survived lymphatic cancer.

For further information, email him at [email protected]

Independent On Saturday