Brothers Taking on Adaptive Sports Together
For the past two years, Jacques Junior [Jay-Jay] Booysens has been participating as one of the Warrior On Wheels Foundation [WOW] buggy teams in the Cape Town Cycle Tour, towed by his super-human volunteer cyclist Marc Wyllie. He celebrated his 9th birthday the same day as he took on his first 109km tour of Cape Town by buggy in 2018 – balloons billowing from the back as the team were cheered on by supporters – and returned for his back-to-back ride in 2019.
Jay-Jay is a 10 year old boy with Billateral Striatal Necrosis. His diagnosis is believed to be due to a rare mutation of genes post infection. Jay-Jay is a soft-hearted boy who lives life to the fullest. He is also very attached to his older brother, Schalke. “He can be hard-headed at times and stubborn, ” says his mom, Caroline. “He loves swimming, water, speed, cars – anything crazy and wild. Overall Jay-Jay has a killer smile, a fierce love for good food and a soft soul with heart as big as a 10 cent piece.”
The family joined Warrior On Wheels Foundation at the beginning of 2017 for a boat trip to Seal Island, and since then have enjoyed many adventures including adaptive surfing, horse riding, a motorbike sidecar experience, and visits to places of interest such as the aquarium, crocodile farm and riding the Cape Wheel. Jay-Jay’s winning smile is always a great indicator of the success of the day’s outing and he is always enthusiastic to try something new. In fact, that smile earned him a modelling opportunity with Marks & Spenser.
Jay-Jay's Big Brother, Schalke
Sixteen year old Schalke was diagnosed with high-grade ADHD, emotional disregulation, an additional learning disability, and depression – some of which require medication. His growth was stunted as a result of high doses of medication over the years. Schalke suffered emotional struggles from the age of 8 years old up until around 11 years old due to the challenges of mainstream schooling. “He could not look one in the eye for a while and only recovered around 13 years of age after enrollment at an SID school to heal his self-image,” says Caroline.
She describes Schalke as being an introvert, though he has always come out of the shadows to protect his brother, becoming emotional whenever Jay-Jay has been ill and hospitalised. “Through all Schalke’s battles his golden heart shines through. He is overly protective at times, but a helpful, kind, soul who has helped with everything concerning his brother – anything from changing his diapers and bathing him, to installing safety belts on a wheelchair – Schalke can do it all! He has even built his brother a wooden armrest chair for playing chess at a low table – small things indicative of his level of care, love, and dedication.”
Schalke loves anything inclusive as he struggles to make friends. Due to his close involvement with Jay-Jay’s physical care, he is quite fit and strong, thrives on doing well in sports, and maintains a daily exercise regime. “I believe he loves sport mostly due to the feeling of being part of a team. He feels like he belongs and that makes him proud and he pushes himself to keep up,” says Caroline.
2019 A Year of Events for the Brothers
Jay-Jay and Marc shared another incredible Cape Town Cycle Tour in March 2019 and Marc encouraged the boys’ parents for Schalke to start cycling and preparing to join the WOW Buggy Team for the 2020 tour. “When Marc suggested Schalke get involved in cycling, he was excitedly dreaming about it. Being part of JJ’s life is very important to him. He understands JJ’s impaired dialect better than anyone due to their close bond,” shares Caroline.
Schalke received his bicycle from his parents as an early 16th birthday present and he jumped right into the deep-end, joining a few other seasoned cyclists from Warrior On Wheels for the 8 Hour Challenge at Welbedacht Estate in May, completing five 10km laps on his first ever cycling event!
Around the same time, their skilled dad, Jacques, built their own running and cycling combination buggy and the brother’s first running event was the FNB One Run in May, joining two other teams to complete the 12km run from Woodbridge Island to the city centre, with Schalke pushing Jay-Jay and doing exceptionally well. In the same month, he joined the WOW buggy team in a welcome home ride, for Justin Coomber, towing Jay-Jay from Eden on the Bay to Sea Point, an impressive 23km.
In June, the Warrior On Wheels Foundation buggy team entered their first out of town event, the Knysna Cycle Tour, and the brothers eagerly signed up – with Marc Wyllie towing Jay-Jay for the 50km route, and Schalke cycling as support rider, giving a push on the hills and keeping an eye on Jay-Jay in the buggy.
WATCH: Schalke & Jay-Jay's first 39km Cycling Event as a Team
Schalke is becoming an avid cyclists and his strength and fitness has been growing in leaps and bounds. So much so, that this weekend, Schalke and Jay-Jay entered the Pedal Power Association Sportive #5 event, taking on the challenging 39km route as a team of brothers! And if that wasn’t a feat on its own – after crossing the finishing line, Schalke unhooked Jay-Jay’s buggy and went back onto the route to go and find the last team still out on the road to help give them a push to get them to the finish line!