JHB Para-athlete to cycle 1520km to Cape Town, swim Robben Island to Big Bay, to gift teen prosthetic leg

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Sean Clarke (28), a multi-talented para-athlete from Craighall Park, Johannesburg, is an inspiring individual who overcame a severe injury at the age of 7 that resulted in the loss of use of his left leg. 

Despite being classified as disabled, Sean’s determined spirit and passion for sports led him to refuse to let his injury hinder his aspirations.

In August 2022, Sean challenged himself to participate in the Comrades marathon, against the advice he was given, to fulfil a life long dream. 

Sean Clarke running the Comrades (Image credit: Brandon Gould Photography)

After conquering the mammoth marathon, doctors encouraged Sean to find new avenues for physical activity, and to take on sports which would place less strain on his hips and knees.

Ever adaptable, Sean began to explore swimming and cycling as alternatives to running, and did not let the setback discourage him.

Through his remarkable sporting pursuits, Sean happened to cross paths with James Willers, a 17-year-old boy from Randburg, who, due to neglect and severe burns, lost his right leg and subsequently contracted meningitis which resulted in the complete loss of his hearing. 

Sean and James (Pictured wearing his swimming medals), have a special friendship. (Image credit: Kaylin van Dyk)

Sean’s Epic challenge

Moved by James’ determination and perseverance, Sean has decided to take on a new challenge and is driving a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy,

Aiming to raise R200 000 to purchase a top-of-the-range prosthetic, and prosthetic liners, Sean hopes to alleviate the financial burden James’ adoptive parents are facing, and give James the opportunity to lead the fulfilling life he deserves.

“I am establishing an extreme aquabike/biathlon challenge in South Africa whereby I will be cycling solo from Johannesburg to Cape Town (1520 km) in 8 consecutive days, covering a distance of around  200km a day.”

“After a 24-hour recovery, I will then swim from Robben Island to Big Bay which is 7.5km as the crow flies. This will be done to not only bring about disability awareness and showcase how differently abled individuals can achieve exceptional feats but also to raise money for a very special individual.” – says Sean.

Sean’s upcoming challenge, which is set to begin on 6 October 2023, has already garnered support from around the world, raising R16 877.87, thanks to the generosity of 42 donors. 

Sean Clarke training hard for his Robben Island/Big Bay swim.  (Image credit: Kaylin van Dyk)


Sean says James embodies the type of individual we should all strive to be. 

“He has a wealth of knowledge and experience that we can all learn from such as perseverance, resilience, adaptability and flexibility. Firstly, living with his disability can be challenging at times however, he has shown incredible perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity. He has constantly adapted to his environment to overcome obstacles.”

Sean Clarke and James William Thusi WIllers. (Image credit: Kaylin van Dyk)

“He has shown incredible flexibility and highlighted the importance of finding new and innovative solutions to his challenges. He has taught me to appreciate the diversity and richness of human experience and that a physical disability is just one aspect of a persons identity and that every individual has the ability to make meaningful contributions to this world.” – says Sean

Sean is on track to make a significant difference in James’ life, proving that disabilities should never be barriers to success. 

Support this cause on BackaBuddy: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/james-thusi-5550301751121744503

Follow Sean’s incredible journey on Instagram 

Create your own Crowdfunding Campaign

South Africa’s leading crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy has raised over R400 Million in support of various worthy causes from donors from around the world.

If you’re a charity or an individual in need of funds for medical needs, tuition fees or simply want to pay it forward, launch a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy here.

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