CAPE TOWN, June 30 (ANA) - A South African man will attempt a world record 11 000km solo jet ski trip from Norway to Greece to raise funds for people with disabilities to commemorate Mandela Day.
"Commemorating 100 years of greatness has to be matched by an event that celebrates that greatness through intense sacrifice, social awareness, risk, and commitment," Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said.
Marinus du Plessis, 55, was set to jet ski his way into the Guiness Book of Records with a solo 11,000km Artic-to-Athens venture in honour of former president Nelson Mandela and Mandela Day to raise both awareness about the immense problems faced by persons with disabilities and vital funds for their care, Sooliman said.
Du Plessis, of Gauteng, intended undertaking the epic 40-day jet ski journey to encourage the public to donate funds to the Gift of the Givers, while breaking a world record. This would enhance the organisation's support for projects dealing with the physically and mentally challenged, including autism.
The Pretoria-based export company owner would begin his record-breaking attempt on July 7 from Rognan in Norway. He would jet ski through the rough North Sea, traverse the English Channel, the world's busiest waterway, before skimming across the Mediterranean to Athens in Greece, Sooliman said.
"I am a man on a mission. I want to heighten awareness about problems faced by physically challenged and autistic people and the best way I know how is to tackle an endurance challenge on a jet ski. I do this in honour of Mr Nelson Mandela, my autistic brother, and in the memory of a great friend, sadly no longer with us," Du Plessis said.
"This is a mammoth undertaking and one which will call attention to the plight of persons with disabilities through the stimulation of great public interest in the endeavour, with the tracking of his route through social platforms. South Africans will be rooting for a fellow citizen, Marinus, hoping that he breaks the record. We are most grateful to him for his daring fund-raising endeavour on our behalf and encourage South Africans of all walks of life to really get behind his adventure," Sooliman said.
Funds raised would be dedicated by the Gift of the Givers to provide wheelchairs and to assist Autism South Africa to support affected children.
Du Plessis was no stranger to marathon jet ski exploits. In 2003 he and then close friend Adriaan Marais completed a 7000km jet ski trip from Kenya to Cape Town in 57 days. They then began planning their next adventure, a challenging route from Alaska to Panama along the West Coast of the Americas. In 2006, they completed the 17,500km journey in 95 days - a new record, Sooliman said.
"A tragic diving accident in 2013 claimed Adriaan's life, leaving me devastated and I gave no further thought to jet ski adventures until recently. A challenge of this nature is about both physical and mental fitness and undertaking a trip with others sounded too normal, so I opted for a solo record-breaking attempt," Du Plessis said.
"I can't wait to get going and am greatly looking forward to this crazy challenge; a challenge I am dedicating to my dear friend, Adriaan. He and my brother will be in my thoughts throughout my ride from Norway to Greece," he said.
African News Agency/ANA