Transverse Myelitis Association
Journal Volume 3 - June 2008

Article 45

South Africa
8 October 2007

Hi everyone,

October 2007 was transverse myelitis PARTY TIME in Cape Town and Pretoria!

Friends of Andre Venter decided to organise two huge TM awareness events. One function was held in Cape Town and another in Pretoria. A.J. Smith and Susann Myburgh put a lot of time, effort and planning into these events. Their main aim was to create awareness of TM and to raise money for TM patients in SA by auctioning rugby memorabilia.

Jenny attended the Cape Town function and Mart attended the Pretoria function.

WOW! These evenings were truly unforgettable.

Tables were sponsored by various companies and, of course, a delicious three course meal was included. Andre Markgraaff was a guest speaker at the Cape Town function and Hennie Kriel spoke at the Pretoria function.

By selling beautiful rugby memorabilia, a basic fund for financially needy TM patients in South Africa was set up.

Considering the fact that Andre is already working in the financial field, he volunteered to be the fund manager. Andre is financially secure and he won’t personally benefit from this fund. As soon as we have clarity, we’ll inform you about the total amount of money that was raised and also how this fund will work. Please watch this space!

As we all know by now, Andre was a Springbok rugby player. In fact, he played 66 test matches for South Africa!  At some stage he was rated the best flanker in the world. Since July 2006 Andre has been wheel chair bound because of TM. Andre was the main speaker at both of the events. He shared his TM story with us and he described the devastating effect that TM had on his life since he was 36.

Tears were running and once again we all realised what an extremely challenging disease TM is. Fortunately Andre’s positive attitude clearly shone through and he explained that he will not allow TM to break him.  He had a standing ovation after he read a poem called “Slow Dance” that was written by a young girl in a New York hospital who was diagnosed with terminal cancer:

Slow Dance

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask “How are you?”
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You’d better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say “Hi”?
You’d better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over…

We would like to ask our members to please write a thank you note to Andre Venter, Susann Myburgh and A.J. Venter for their efforts to create TM awareness and for the fundraisers.

Without them, we would not have a basic fund to help our TM community in the future.

Their email addresses are:

Andre Venter:
Susann Myburgh:

Lots of love and hope to all of you,

Mart (

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