Morgan Freeman and Sir Richard Branson help welcome back Bikers For Mandela Day
Pretoria, 18 July 2011, 14h00: On this special day, the 93rd birthday of Mr Nelson Mandela, Bikers For Mandela Day arrived back at the Royal Elephant Hotel & Conference Centre in Pretoria on Nelson Mandela International Day to a rousing reception from sponsors, supporters and two very special virtual guests.
The first was actor Morgan Freeman who joined the bikers on their inaugural ride in 2010 but had to miss this year’s 2 200 kilometre , seven day, 13 hour and 37 minute journey due to work commitments in the US.
Mr Freeman is a passionate supporter of the call for citizens around the world to spend 67 minutes of time taking action to change the world for the better as part of Mr Mandela’s humanitarian legacy. In a special video link to the US, Mr Freeman reiterated the message he’s been talking about over the past week on multiple US television shows: “Mandela Day is about donating 67 minutes of time to public service – as a tribute to Madiba who devoted 67 years of his life to others. This can be anything that lightens the load of someone in need. Anything that makes the world a better place. “
Joining the actor in welcoming the bikers and adding his voice to the work of Nelson Mandela International Day was Sir Richard Branson – whose birthday falls on the same day as Mr Mandela’s. Sir Branson turned 61 whilst Mr Mandela turned 93 on July 18th - and following his message of support, Sir Branson was blown away when the bikers sang “Happy Birthday” to him via the video link.
In another music-fuelled surprise, a special video clip was shown, sent through to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory by Irish rock band, U2. It showed Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton and a huge stadium audience in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania singing “Happy Birthday” to Madiba – adding even more emotion to an already emotional welcome home event.
U2, Sir Branson and Mr Freeman are among the many high-profile international supporters of Nelson Mandela International Day on July 18th each year. Indeed, Mr Freeman, Lori McCreary and their production company Revelations Entertainment are promoting the day through a special tribute lunch in New York today. Co-hosting the event are Dan Abrams, Ann Curry, Billie Jean King, Hoda Kotb, Natalie Morales, Robin Roberts, Al Roker, Charlie Rose, Harry Smith and Brian Williams.
The founder of Bikers For Mandela Day, Zelda la Grange, Mr Mandela’s executive assistant of over 17 years, made a point of thanking all the South African sponsors of this year’s expedition, saying the trip could not have been possible without Spar and Vodacom and many other contributors.
La Grange spoke about the reason for the trip – the community projects along the way that the bikers and support staff as well as local municipalities and sponsor representatives worked at for 67 minutes at a time.
Like all the participants in this year’s Bikers For Mandela Day, La Grange said stopping-off in mostly rural communities, taking action for change had been an “incredibly emotional” time. “To be there, doing something like building a vegetable garden or shelves for a kitchen and handing out donations from our sponsors to the community projects has been life-changing for all of us,” she said.
“It was the most arduous trip we’ve undertaken. But to be an active participant in the ethos of Mandela Day, in places that are usually far below the radar of funders, was such a privilege. I’d like to extend a hearty thank-you to our main sponsors Vodacom and Spar and the many others individuals and companies that donated towards everything we needed for the trip and the community work. We are also grateful for the support of the IDC and our vet, Dr Kobus van der Merwe whose work with animals and farmers along the route was really brilliant. In fact everyone on the support team has played a part in the success of this year’s expedition.
“But mostly I’d must thank our bikers. Their energy and passion was what made this year’s ride so amazing. Just when one of us was flagging, someone else would do something encouraging. The biker’s commitment to the ethos of Mandela Day is incredible and serves as an inspiration to ordinary folk around the world. I hope everyone follows in their bike tracks by giving 67 minutes of their time today and every day into the future to make a difference in the life of someone who needs it.”
Please note that these projects are in need of ongoing support, we have included their contact details below.
Monday 11 July 2011
(A project of the Tswaranang Group)
Contact: Danel Smith on 058 622 1799 / 082 422 6627
Tuesday 12 July 2011
Nelson Mandela capture site monument in Howick
Wednesday 13 July 2011
Ncemanene School – Mcemanene Reserve
Contact: Headmaster A.M. Mthembu – 072 396 8549
Thursday 14 July 2011
Drop In Centre Soup Kitchen– Feeds needy children
Contact: Maxwell Mabaso – 072 992 5375
Contact: 072 770 5307
Friday 15 July 2011
Samora Machel Memorial Site
Saturday 16 July 2011
Nelspruit Community Forum
Contact: Brenda Mare – 013 752 2140 / 082 929 9582
The Masoyi Special Care Centre– Mentally Handicapped and Disabled Centre
Contact: Liz Mackintosh – 083 528 0484
Sunday 17 July 2011
Emanuel Family Home
Graskop home for the needy
Contact: Sarel Loots 083 600 9863
Monday 18 July 2011
Children's Home Belfast
Contact: Yolanda / Trudy Keyter – 013 253 1073 / 082 494 5813