04/09/2014. Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen who is suffering from Motor Neuron Disease smiles during a surprise visit to Elsie Oosthuizen who is also suffering from the same disease. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Johannesburg - The J9 Foundation, which is headed by its founder Joost van der Westhuizen, on Thursday donated R5 000 to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) sufferer, 55-year-old Elsie Oosthuizen, from Eldoraigne, Centurion.

Oosthuizen was diagnosed earlier this year with the disease, which is sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or motor neuron disease.

ALS is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and ultimately leads those affected to lose functions of limb, speech, swallowing and later breathing.

Along with the cheque, the foundation provided Oosthuizen with supplements to boost her immune system.

Van der Westhuizen - although frail, as he is reported to be in the third stage of ALS - was present to meet and talk to Oosthuizen. This was their first meeting and they chatted and laughed like old friends.

When asked which rugby team she supports, Oosthuizen said: “My favourite team is the Lions, with the Bulls second. I even have the blue and pink Bulls jerseys,” while adoringly stroking the bracelet given to her by Van der Westhuizen.

Joost’s brother, Pieter, officially welcomed Oosthuizen to the foundation and assured her that it would take care of all her needs from now on.

“We will assist her with things she may need such as a wheelchair and supplements to help support her immune system,” Pieter said.

Oosthuizen is their 27th member.

The Star