Over a thousand University of Johannesburg (UJ) staff, students, alumni and members of surrounding communities converged at the University’s AW Muller stadium in Auckland Park to walk and run in aid of student funding on Sunday, 18 October 2015. The UJ Future Walk generated in excess of R1 million from pledges, sponsorships, and entry fees. The money raised will add to the staggering R37 million already raised from companies that fund needy students at UJ.
As early as 6:30 am people arrived at the stadium, ferried by UJ shuttle buses from the three other UJ campuses (Soweto, Doornfontein and Kingsway) to show their solidarity in the 8 km or 5 km walk/run.
“We are grateful to everyone that took part in the UJ Future Walk today, the people that pledged, and the sponsors that have given money and bursaries to our underprivileged, academically deserving students. The UJ Future Walk is one of the initiatives we have implemented to curb our students’ financial hiccups. If we are to realise the dreams for all our academically deserving students, then we have to come up with ways to make those dreams a reality. Today we have done something positive, and we are going to continue making it even bigger in the years to come,” says Ms Nomsa Mahlangu, Senior Director of UJ Sport.
Prof Ihron Rensburg, UJ Vice-Chancellor, and Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Education MEC, led the crowd in the 5 km walk. The participants, geared in green T-shirts, provided by the national department of Sport and Recreation as part of Recreation Month in October, cheered each other on as they ran and walked the 8 and 5 kilometers.
Taking the number one spot in the 8 km run was Steven Koboekae, followed by Mafika Cunukelo and Daniel Lagamang in second and third positions, respectively. The first female runner to arrive at the finish line was Kirsten Nolan. Twin sisters Christilee (first to arrive at the finish point) and Chirelee Jansen won the 5 km run.
Koboekae, who lives in Langlaagte, said that he wanted to help students and also prepare himself for the upcoming 21 km Soweto Halfrun Marathon. “I’m happy that I took part in this Walk, and I’m glad that people came out in their numbers to support UJ,” says Koboekae.
Jansen, who used to run for SA Athletics, is currently doing her Postgrad in Education studies at UJ. She intends to go back to running next year if she gets a sponsorship. “I took part in the UJ Future Walk to do my part in assisting UJ students who struggle financially to pay for their tuition, and also because I’m training hard for next year,” says Jansen.
Philip Vermaak, a resident in Roodepoort, completed the 5 km walk. He took part in the fundraising event “for the future of a student that is doing well in class, but does not have the money to pay for his or her studies”.
Also present at the Walk were learners from Westbury and Coronation schools.
The pledging still continues. The UJ Future Walk has been declared an annual event and will be one of the initiatives on the UJ calendar that ensure South Africa’s shared future through assisting students. The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) supports the UJ Future Walk.