On Friday, 5th August, Joppie held a launching function at La Dolce Vita. During the evening he was able to thank his sponsors, accept a letter from Oudtshoorn’s mayoral office to deliver to the mayors of all the towns he visits and say his farewells. The theme song for his epic walk, Carry on Down the Road, was also officially launched, written and performed by Willim Welsyn.
Due to all his well wishers, Joppie had a late night, but looked refreshed and energetic at 8am in front of Brian’s Grill, the starting point of his Ten Million Steps for Cancer. Jan Greyling presided over the speeches, once again thanking the sponsors who helped make this possible and encouraging words from, amongst others, Oom Japie, a respected leader in the community who is a survivor of prostate cancer.
A nervous time for Joppie, as final adjustments and checks were made to the customised bed he’ll be pushing around the country. Last minute interviews with SABC and various radio stations and newspapers, amongst farewells and words of support followed by having his head shaved in a token of solidarity with sufferers undergoing treatment, and suddenly the moment was upon him.
Pikkewyn, Joppie’s grand-daughter, cut the ribbon and Joppie started the first steps of an estimated ten million, crossing the country to bring words of hope and support to sufferers and their families throughout the country.
Joppie was escorted to the town limits by the Municipal Traffic Department, one member, Mrs. Nadia Jaantjies opting to walk with Joppie instead of driving, as she too has won a battle against cancer. Family, friends and supporters from the community also accompanied Joppie to the city limits, where final farewells were bid.
Joppie wasn’t alone for the first stage of his journey. His close friend, Matt Schroëder, cycled most of the first day’s route alongside Joppie.
Joppie admitted being worried about this first stage, as he can’t walk into oncoming traffic, and with no tarred shoulder for most of the route, would have to contend with a busy road and traffic coming from behind him continously. What most people regarded as a nuisance, Joppie saw as an act of God to speed him on his journey when a rockfall closed the road to vehicles.
Not having to contend with traffic, Joppie made good time on his first day, covering the planned 25km in just under 4 hours. A slight mishap right at the end of the stage caused a buckled wheel, but the staff at Ton’s Sport managed to get to Joppie’s stopover and fix the problem before the start of the next stage.