Up-close & personal with Alwyn Uys - a hero with a different ability

Tuesday, 19 November 2019 08:00 AM

Disability Rights Awareness month is commemorated in South Africa from 03 November to 03 December, under the theme: Together Building South Africa Inclusive of Disability Rights.

This month, we put Alwyn Uys in the spotlight; a former Maties Sport rugby player at Stellenbosch University, who also played in the U19 Sharks academy. His love for rugby is evident, as his dream was to play for the Springboks (South Africa’s national rugby team) one day. Unfortunately, in 2014 Alwyn lost the ability to walk and became wheelchair bound after a horrific accident where he almost lost his life. Alwyn’s story is testament that you can’t keep a good man down.

Victory after tragedy

A few years later and he’s done well for himself; his fearlessness, courage and ‘will to live’ is how he found his strength after tragedy. He is determined to continue doing the things he’s passionate about with or without a disability.

His achievements amongst others include:

  • The first South African paraplegic to complete an Ironman race.
  • Two gold medals at the 2018 SA Para-cycling competition
  • Competing at the 2017 Para-cycling World Cup.

Alwyn is living proof that absolutely nothing is impossibleNot only will you find out that ‘not all superheroes wear capes’… but you might just be encouraged to channel your inner strength and push yourself to dream BIG

We cannot wait to see what the future holds for him!

Get to know Alwyn a little bit better through our Q & A:

How did you end up in with a disability?

A: I was in a car accident in 2014 and broke my back.

What do you love most about travelling?

A: I love travelling because it grants me my independence, freedom and the ability to break away from my comfort zone. The best part of it all is that I get to see new places and experience new things.

Describe your travel personality – what do you like to do?

A: I like to try new things that I’ve never tried before, especially things of different culture and experiences.

How do you prepare for a trip and is there a difference when you fly?

A: I’m not a light packer (*laughs) so when I fly I have to think carefully about what to take and what to leave because I usually end up taking too many things I won’t need. I never forget to take snacks. Always take snacks!

What is the one thing you would change when you travel that makes your journey challenging?

A: The process of boarding a plane is rather tedious and makes a trip longer than usual, and more effort is required.

Do you travel often? What is your favourite holiday spot and why?

A: Yes, I do. My favourite spot is The Kruger National park. I love the outdoors and animals.

In your view, what should tourist destinations be doing to improve accessibility for people using wheelchairs?

A: It’s tough in South Africa because our country is very outdoor based and that makes it challenging for wheelchair users. To be specific, the beaches aren’t wheelchair friendly at all. In Australia, they build tracks on the sand for wheelchairs which makes the world difference!

Name three things you can’t travel without?

A: Headphones, toothbrush and a good book.

Can you offer a piece of practical travel advice for wheelchair users wishing to travel?

A: Many believe that they are bound to their homes and travelling is not possible, especially flying. My humble advice is to travel, as it’s a great experience and the staff are perfectly capable of helping you. They make travelling a breeze.

What keeps you motivated and what advice do you have for people with disabilities?

A: Set goals to challenge yourself and upon achieving those goals, reward yourself and tackle the next one. It will soon become a snowball effect and you will love challenging yourself and achieving great things in your life.

Flying with a disability on kulula (requesting special assistance)

We value all our customers and love to see everyone fly comfortably. It is important to us to always ensure that we support people with disabilities, by making the necessary preparations essential for travel. If you require any special assistance; all you need to do is make a flight booking then submit your request online and an agent will contact you. If you’re travelling within 48 hours, call our Contact Centre on 0861 KULULA (585852) to confirm availability, as soon as possible.

By definition, a disability is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these. A disability may be present from birth or occur during a person's lifetime.

Here are a few tips when travelling with a disability:

Read more on the type of special assistance you may require at the airport, as well as the different special needs listed.

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