The Little Eden Society’s annual CEO Wheelchair Campaign will put top South African CEOs in a wheelchair for a day to understand the lives of people living with profound physical and intellectual disabilities.

Discovery CEO Adrian Gore was a recent participant in the Little Eden Society’s CEO Wheelchair Campaign.

In a world often ruled by its CEOs and top-level influencers, it is hard to imagine these magnates as vulnerable or helpless. They are powerful players in the South African economy, they rule their organisations and guide them towards success – but what if they were wheelchair bound and reliant on others for their every daily need?

This is the focus of the Little Eden Society’s annual CEO Wheelchair Campaign; geared towards meeting the needs of advocacy and support for people living with profound intellectual disability. The Campaign challenges participants to spend a day at work in a wheelchair, giving participants some understanding of what it could be like to spend their entire life in one. Participants in the 2018 CEO Wheelchair Campaign found the experience to be both rewarding and eye-opening. They developed a deeper understanding and compassion for those who live with disabilities.

Adrian Gore from Discovery, for example, confirmed that he found the experience to be profound. “It was incredibly hard in every way – I got home exhausted mentally and emotionally. I cannot begin to imagine the complexity and difficulty of being in a wheelchair – or living with any substantial disability, whether physical or mental.”

Noting that the Campaign was an enlightening experience, Maurizio Galimberti from Oberon Pharma confirmed; “The experience highlighted the difficulties that disabled persons go through as far as their ability is concerned. One of the biggest impressions I got from this campaign was the strength required to get from point A to point B in a wheelchair, and realising the hardships disabled persons go through on a daily basis.”

Thomas Holtz from Multotec expressed his gratitude towards Little Eden for the campaign by saying; “I would like to thank Little Eden for suggesting this challenge and I believe we could all gain by appreciating what they do for our community!”

The 2019 CEO Wheelchair Campaign will be launched on 27 February 2019. Participants choose any day in March 2019 to spend their day in a wheelchair. The campaign is open to CEOs, business leaders or influencers with a donation of R50 000. Small businesses may also participate with a R30 000 donation. All participants are encouraged to challenge others to join the cause.

Although Kargo International was not able to participate in the challenge, the company still donated R50 000 to the 2018 Campaign. With the belief that this is an important cause to support, Melissa Erasmus, Group Human Resources Manager confirms; “Supporting Little Eden has always been important to Kargo. The results that it achieves as an organisation are visible and make a significant difference in the community.”

Gore concludes; “While my day in a wheelchair was a drop in the ocean of what people actually experience it did give me the insight that Little Eden intended, but it was this very insight that left me feeling inspired and hopeful. I say this because the many people I know who live with disabilities are incredibly productive, high achievers, and make a significant impact. I don’t know how they do it, but they do – it’s a testimony to their grit and resilience, and the power of the human spirit.”

The Little Eden Society cares for 300 people with profound intellectual disability, most of whom have been abandoned. South African Financial Donations to Little Eden Society, which go towards the residents’ care, are tax deductible (with certain limitations) and may receive an 18A Tax Certificate, which can be used to reclaim tax from SARS. Supporters of Little Eden may also earn points on the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Scorecard.