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2460km on a Riverboard! Say what?

Roche Schoeman, director of Fearless Adventures, has been involved with a non-profit organisation called Up with Downs, a school for children with special needs, since 2014. Roche became the first person to swim the entire length of the Orange River, from source to sea, non-stop, with the aid of a river board. He started from its source, high up in the Lesotho mountains, to the Atlantic ocean where the river mouths at Alexander Bay, some 2460km, with the aid of a floatation device, namely the Riverboard. He did all this, alone and unsupported and mostly in flood water. The expedition took him just short of five months to complete. He did this to raise awareness for the children of the Up with Downs school in George in the Western Cape and specifically to raise funds for a much needed Adult home. Roche feels strongly that people with special needs need a place in society and says, ‘ To be hidden away in an institution is not the answer’. Roche’s swim, dubbed ‘The Bigger than Us project’ came about after he came into contact with adults with down’s syndrome, while working as a raft guide in Iceland some years ago. Touched, Roche decided to do something for people living with down’s here in South Africa. His gruelling swim for the school has left him with many stories to tell. From close encounters with Buffalo and puff adders to facing arid conditions, food shortages, raging rapids and loneliness. Raising funds for Up with Down’s is an ongoing challenge and the school relies on three annual fundraisers and other projects to remain afloat. The events include a ladies tea in February, a wine auction in May and a Golf day at Oubaai Golf course in August.

Since becoming involved with the school, Roche has become a big ambassador for Up with Downs and is planning more upcoming challenges and expeditions, such as a Guiness World Record Swim and a mountaineering expedition in South America.

He has dubbed his mission ‘Adventure with a purpose’ and is using his skills acquired to raise awareness for these kids as they do not have the abilities to do these types of activities themselves.

The Up with Downs school has managed to secure a piece of land for the Adult Home close to their school premises and the challenge now is to raise funds to build the actual home.

For more information please contact Jan Seegmuller (chairperson of Up with Downs) ~ upwithdowns@mweb.co.za

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