Cape Town – Dozens of riders on a wide variety of bikes and scooters turned out for the city’s first Biker Run for Preemies at the weekend, to show their support for the neo-natal unit at Groote Schuur Hospital and the tiny patients it cares for.

And if that sounds like an unusual cause for bikers to get involved in, think again - there’s a very strong motorcycle connection. That’s because these premature babies may have to stay in the unit for as long as three months before they are strong enough to go home, and one of the most vital facets in their treatment is to feed them with their mothers’ own milk

But many of their mothers live in the far-flung dormitory townships on the Cape Flats and simply cannot get to Groote Schuur every day to feed their babies. And that’s where the motorcycle angle comes in, because if the mothers cannot come to the hospital, then the hospital must go to the mothers.

That’s not as crazy as it sounds. Working together with the Newborns Trust and Relate, Linlee Solms of Scully Scooters rider training hatched a plan, which they’ve named Mothers Own Milk on the Move.

Everyone and his dog was there. Pictures: Dave Abrahams

Mothers of premature infants will be encouraged to visit their local day clinic, where they’ll express their breast milk into a carefully labelled container, which is kept at a constant five degrees. Once a day, the Mothers Own Milk on the Move rider will collect the containers from all the participating clinics, using a motorcycle fitted with a specially insulated top box, and ferry them to the hospital, where the tiny infants will then be fed with their mothers’ own milk.

The rider, Scully graduate Ricardo Swail, has been recruited; Relate will provide a Bajaj 200cc motorcycle, financed through the sale of special purple bracelets (purple is the signature colour of World Premature Babies day, 17 November, as well as the Newborns Trust), and Consol has donated 500 reusable glass jars.

All of which was more than enough excuse for a party in the hospital grounds, with live music from Sharon Clifton and her band and a prize for the best-dressed (in purple, of course) bike. 

The riders met at Tyger Valley Harley-Davidson and rode to Groote Schuur in a group. After the thank-yous, interviews, prize-giving (well done to Conny van Wieringen) and a chance to buy commemorative T-shirts and Relate bracelets, each rider took a few glass jars and the run proceeded to the Gugulethu Clinic, where the jars were handed over to the nursing staff who will administer the initiative at that end. 

It is hoped that Mothers Own Milk on the Move can be extended to more than the current three clinics – at Gugulethu, Hanover Park, and Mitchells Plain – but for now the riders who wore purple and turned out for this awareness run can take pride in the fact that they helped get the wheels rolling.