YOU’VE most certainly heard about the annual Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge. Perhaps you’ve also heard that our own Stepping Stone Hospice is one of the charities people can ride and raise funds for in this big competition.
But are you aware that Jeff Hudson does this every year with excellence?
Last year, Stepping Stone raised the most money ever in the challenge (77 riders cycled for their cause) and earned the challenge’s coveted Blue Jersey. This is an award that goes to the person who raises the most money for charity and it was earned by Jeff and his team, who managed to raise over R660 000 last year.
The RECORD interviewed Jeff to get to know him and his team a bit better. After all, he must be quite a hero if he is so committed to helping Stepping Stone every year.
Jeff (56) was born in Port Elizabeth and made a career move to Johannesburg 25 years ago. He is the father of two grown boys. During the day, he works in the marketing field at Absa. Everything he enjoys doing revolves around being active, like swimming, running and cycling.
AR: Tell us a bit more about the teammates who ride with you for Stepping Stone Hospice each year.
JH: The team started in 2014 when Annelize Enders, the sister of a nursing staff member at Stepping Stone Hospice, wanted to ride for a purpose and more specifically for Stepping Stone. She needed 20 cyclists to register as a charity for the 947 Cycle Challenge and Absa’s Judy Joubert then came on board by inviting all of her cycling colleagues. Anyone can join this amazing team and make a difference by “riding for a purpose”.
AR: What made you (as a team) decide to ride for Stepping Stone Hospice?
JH: Stepping Stone Hospice plays a crucial role in the community and receives no government funding and that’s why we felt this to be a worthy cause.
AR: To date, how much money (an estimate) has your team raised for Stepping Stone?
JH: The team has collectively raised R3 million over four years.
AR: What is your secret? Why are you guys so good at raising so much money?
JH: By involving our networks, family and friends, and with the assistance of the foundation. To strengthen the effort, we also link up with community-led fund-raising events such as golf days, walks, spin-a-thons, school fund-raising efforts and cake sales. In addition, each cyclist has to secure a minimum sponsorship of R1 500.
AR: How do you stay motivated to work so hard every year?
JH: It’s such a good cause; it really is hard not to be motivated by it.
AR: What are the biggest challenges you guys face in terms of helping Hospice like you do?
JH: We have not really faced any substantial challenges. It’s just a matter of giving people the right information to enable them to make the decision, and then following up.
AR: How do you prepare yourselves for such a big competition each year? You must have very good health and lifestyle habits.
JH: I enjoy being active. I swim, run and cycle and particularly enjoy the annual Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge event. It is a great opportunity to get to know Johannesburg better as we cycle along a close to 100 km route through some of the most beautiful parts of the city. Thousands of people participate in the event, including people who don’t necessarily train regularly.
AR: What are your goals for this year’s race?
JH: As a minimum, I always aim to finish a ride or race. Improving on the time in which I completed the ride last year would be a bonus!
AR: How do you see your team in five years if you keep making such good progress?
JH: I would like to help grow the team of cyclists who “ride for a purpose” and I would like to continue generating support for the many worthy causes that we put our weight behind.
AR: Is there a motto or vision that your team abides by?
JH: We all rally behind “riding for a purpose”.
AR: Any other message you want to share with the readers?
JH: I encourage readers to consider signing up for the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge and to support Stepping Stone Hospice or any of the many non-profit organisations linked to the event. You will feel amazed when you do it.
AR: Is there anyone or anything that you owe gratitude to for helping you be so successful at raising funds for Stepping Stone Hospice?
JH: I can’t take the credit for raising the funds single-handedly; we do it together as a team. Judy Joubert, our team leader, for one, plays a significant role in Absa’s participation in the event. Furthermore, every rand counts, so everyone who contributes has a very direct role in helping to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people when it matters most.
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