There’s arguably no other challenge that takes more emotional guts than one that includes hope in saving a friend with cancer.
When Peyton Matthews, Kayla Verbaan, Scarlett Friis, Amy Walton and Kaylee Joubert decided to take on the challenge of swimming the aQuelle Midmar Mile this year, to raise funds with The Cows for the Childhood Cancer Foundation of SA (CHOC), they had a singular, motivating force propelling them forward: their hero Mackenzie Riddle.
MacKenzie, or Kenzie as she is affectionately known, is a courageous 10-year-old who has faced more than most her age. In November last year, she was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, Ewings Sarcoma, and has since undergone an aggressive course of treatment that has included months of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. Her unwavering spirit, resilience and unyielding determination in her fight against cancer have left an indelible mark on each of her five closest friends, and her strength has served as the beacon of motivation for them to come together and make a difference in her honour.
As they dove into the water on the day of the event which took place in February this year, Peyton, Kayla, Scarlett, Amy and Kaylee swam not only for themselves, but for Mackenzie and for all those who are facing or have faced a daunting battle with cancer.
“Kenzie is the definition of a true warrior. She has shown us what courage and resilience really mean, and her fight against cancer has not only inspired us, but also ignited a fire within our hearts. In her honour, we’re on a mission to raise funds for every single child fighting cancer, just like Kenzie,” say the feisty five.
Kenzie’s story is a testament to the incredible strength within every child. Her optimism in the face of adversity has touched the hearts of all who know her and, it is her story and the stories of the many like her that inspire The Cows to raise funds for all the brave children in our country fighting cancer. The first time the herd gathered at Midmar Dam for the world’s largest open water swim event was in 2014, with 30 swimmers proudly wearing their cow-print costumes.
In the nine years that’ve followed, they’ve raised well over R4 million at this event. Since The Cows started in 2008, they have collectively raised over R46 million for CHOC through various sports events and there’s no stopping the stampede! Their energy is infectious and with their motto ‘Love Living Life’, The Cows guarantee plenty of fun in their fundraising challenges!
“The Cows represent people with a passion for life and desire to support initiatives that make a difference,” says Iris Varty, convener of The Cows in KZN.
Last year, there were more than 350 swimmers crossing the dam – including Mackenzie’s tribe who will be at it again come February 2024 – and they are definitely planning on breaking that record!
Gearing up for their 10th Midmar Mile, the herd is encouraging everybody – seasoned swimmer or not – to join them at the starting line in 2024 on February 10 and 11, so mark your calendars.
“Swimming with The Cows is where personal goals and achievements are intertwined with a larger purpose – making a difference. Your participation, whether as a solo swimmer, a team or a supportive spectator, contributes to a cause that goes beyond the waters of the dam, so we invite you to swim with us, not just for yourself but for incredible children like Kenzie who deserve a chance at a brighter tomorrow. Your participation can be the ripple that creates waves of change in their lives.” says Iris.
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