Rory was born 5 weeks premature with little chance of survival as his lungs were not completely developed. He spent the first two years of his life in Johannesburg General Hospital, on a ventilator for 18 months in ICU and 6 months in a normal ward. Lack of oxygen while in an oxygen tent left him brain damaged. I was told that he would never be able to walk, feed himself or talk and the best thing to do was to find an institution to put him in for others to look after him as I wouldn’t be able to care for him. I didn’t do that. I had other children all boys and decided the best thing for Rory was to be with his brothers and be treated as a normal child but to take each day as it comes, to be positive and believe that anything he was able to do would be a miracle.
For 28 years he stayed with us at home attending various schools for intellectually challenged children then moving onto a sheltered workshop. The damaged circuits can never be repaired, however that has not stopped Rory from doing anything. At the age of 6 he desperately wanted to water ski, even though he couldn’t walk. He walked then water skied which was the beginning of an incredible journey. He resides at Logwood Village a special village for intellectually challenged adults where he has been for three years, he has made lots of friends and has been encouraged to be the best that he can be, something I have wanted for him all his life.
Rory, after undergoing various operations can only walk with the aid of a walker and a stick. After he hurt his knees training for the 702 five kilometre walk last year he had to stay home and rest for three weeks. Not something Rory took lightly, he was despondent. A very dear friend of mine Merle Finch who has played a special part in Rory’s life told me she would try and organise that Rory ride in a chariot in the 94.7 race later in the year. She came up trumps as she always does and that was the beginning of an exceptional journey for Rory. Through Merle he met Justin Jeffery who he trains with every week, the man who changed his life, a member of the Trojans Cycling group. Rory has a very special relationship with Justin but Marc Kourie is his mate, his idol, his brother in arms, that relationship is one that is hard to quantify.
Marc pulled Rory in the chariot for 94.7 kilometres he and his team mates, Justin, Merle and her husband Craig, Byron and others, took care of Rory the whole day, they made sure he had sun tan cream applied to face, legs and arms, that he had snacks and water. It was a very emotional day.
Marc and Rory crossed the finish line and Rory received his medal, which has been placed on his wall at home with the many others he has received throughout his life. The Iron Man was a challenge for Marc and Rory, all we wanted to see them cross the finish line safely, and unfortunately it wasn’t to be. We learned a lot that day and with the help of Marc’s parents who are the most awesome people we will be cheering them on next year.
Rory cried tears of joy when he heard that Marc had organised that he would take part in the Ironman race, when I asked him why he wanted to do this his reply was “he didn’t want Marc to do this on his own he wanted to be with him” a true mate…………….
Now we start training for the 94.7 in November 2017, Rory is excited as he is on the tandem with his mate Marc; again our wish is to see them get safely across the finish line riding for a purpose.
He talks about Marc and Justin all the time they have played a huge part in Rory’s life words cannot express my gratitude to these two angels.
Left: Rory Whitecross. At 2017 Durban 70.3 Ironman