Friday 24 March marks World TB Day – a commemoration designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world. It’s a particularly important day for Kevin Grenfell because he lost his mother to a rare strain of TB (Mycobacterium Avium Complex) in March 2016.
Her death prompted Kevin to learn more about a disease that is as misunderstood as it is deadly. He discovered that TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and that many victims are children under the age of 10. In fact, every day, up to 200 children die from TB despite it being a preventable and curable disease. In South Africa specifically, there is an urgent need for public attention, prioritisation, commitment and funding for this disease. In a quest to lift children out of the shadows of TB – and in celebration of his mother’s life – Kevin was inspired to get on his bike.
He’ll be competing in the annual Old Mutual joBerg2C Mountain Bike race from 21 to 29 April, to raise funds for OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) a KZN based organisation that uses innovative and creative ways to actively involve young people on addressing the many critical health and lifestyle issues they face on a daily basis (including HIV and TB prevention and Enterprise Development). The race is the longest paired mountain biking stage race in South Africa taking place over nine days and covering approximately 900 kilometers from Heidelberg in Gauteng to Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
Kevin’s entry has been sponsored by Old Mutual, who will be hosting his fundraiser drive on their portal ‘More than Yourself’ (make a difference and raise funds for a cause close to your heart – www.morethanyourself.co.za). Kevin’s journey as a rider for this worth cause will also be featured in the immediate lead up, and over the race period on eNCA, South Africa’s most trusted independent TV and online news brand. http://www.enca.com
“Since I was a kid, my mom encouraged my love of riding,” says Kevin. “I remember getting my first BMX bike for Christmas in primary school in Pietermaritzburg. Back then (in the late 80’s, in a sleepy hollow town like PMB) it was safe to ride bikes all over the place. In standard 9, living in Durban, I got a job delivering newspapers every afternoon and weekend, and it was here that my real passion for cycling was born. I rode a cheap yellow ‘Peugeot’ MTB, purchased from the OK Bazaars (I think it was a 14 speed, certainly didn’t have suspension). It weighed a ton, but I loved it. I loved the freedom of being out on a trail, or riding along the beach front.”
Fast forward a few years later and Kevin started riding competitively, entering races (both road and MTB). “I entered my first races towards the end of 2010 (USN MTB Cup, Nissan Trailseeker, Northern’s Quickie) and I did the 94.7 road race. I became more and more obsessed and committed to the sport, and now consider myself ‘above average’, currently finishing in the Top 15 – 20% of most of the races entered. In March 2016 myself and a friend entered the 3 Mountains stage race at Clocholan in the Free State. Although the race was small, we managed to get a podium, finishing second overall in the Vets category.”
In 2016 Kevin’s life changed course when his mom died. “My mom was diagnosed with Mycobacterium Avium Complex, a rare strain of TB and was sick for about five years. She was hospitalised and in isolation in ICU in 2012, recovered slightly, but then regressed over the years until she needed to be on oxygen permanently. Despite her illness, she refused to give up on life. She would still go out and attend quilting and bible study with her friends. My mom died on 28 March 2016. While it was a devastating moment in my life, watching her fight back again and again in ICU it inspired me and gave me the strength to push myself harder and further in all aspects of my life, including cycling. To this day, my mother is my inspiration and my light when I hit dark moments in a race and in life,” says Kevin. “Riding for me is not just about riding hard and riding to beat myself. It’s my place of freedom, recovery, spirituality. It’s my meditation and my sanity.
Kevin is currently in intense training for the Old Mutual joBerg2c. My ‘journey’ to joBerg2c started in November last year when I got it into my head that I was going to do this race, no matter what. Even though I couldn’t afford the entry fee, I had a very clear goal in my mind that I was going to do it. I shifted my mindset. Every time I went on a training ride it was ‘training for Joberg2c’. I cycled almost every day, starting small, and eventually setting myself a personal target to cycle 150km (in 1 session). I joined a Watt biking studio in Northcliff and started doing Wattbike sessions two to three times a week, always telling the trainer ‘I’m training for joBerg2c’. Earlier this year, I got the incredible news from Old Mutual that they were willing to sponsor me an entry.”
Kevin says when he got the news, his immediate reaction was that he wanted to ‘pay it forwards’ and ‘give back’ the equivalent of the race entry to a community or charity in need.
“I thought about the timing of the race, and the fact that it was exactly one year and one month since my mother’s death, and decided to channel everything into the fight against TB, educating the youth of the area where I grew up, and the area where most of the race takes place (KZN).”
“TB is a disease that not only affects poor, rural people, but can affect anyone. My Mother lived in Bryanston, shopped in Fourways so one can imagine the shock at hearing she had TB. The disease is often missed or overlooked due to non-specific symptoms and difficulties in diagnosis, which was what happened in my mom’s case. This particular race is incredibly special to me. I’ll be riding solo because it is the biggest and toughest challenge that I’ve ever taken on, and it’s my own ‘personal journey’ – a personal test (and quest) and memorial for me,” says Kevin.
Kevin Grenfell: Not only an avid rider, for the better part of 15 years, Kevin Grenfell has gained a reputation as one of the country’s best mix-masters and compilers (DJ’s), clocking up a dizzying array of projects. Over the years, he has mixed and compiled more than 30 albums, and established some of the country’s leading dance music brands, including “House Anthems”, “Club Anthems”, “The Vinyl Frontier” with approximately 10 albums released under the globally recognized leading dance label, Ministry of Sound. He also hosted the weekly “Vinyl Frontier” radio show on 5FM every Saturday night for a period of 2 years (2007-2009).
His gifts also extend into creating his own original sounds – Kevin produced the music for an Opel Corsa TV commercial in 2001, and has a raft of unreleased house tunes that he has written. In addition, his remix of TKZee’s iconic Kwaito track ‘Izinjazam’ (released through BMG) as well as that of Mandoza’s ‘Nkalakatha’ (EMI) have earned Kevin an enviable reputation as an original talent to be reckoned with.
2017 sees Kevin taking the helm at Universal Music South Africa’s Local Division as “Head of A&R”. He has successfully signed and/or guided the careers of a number of SA’s leading artists including Prime Circle, Gangs of Ballet, Monark, Majozi, TiMO ODV, Beatenberg, Shekhinah & Kyle Deutsch, Charlize Berg, Neil Somers… and many others.
Tuberculosis: TB is a bacterial infection most often found in the lungs, but it can also be found in the lymphatic system and other vital organs. It’s spread from person to person when someone with an active form of the disease emits tiny, bacteria-containing droplets into the air through coughing, sneezing, talking, singing, or laughing. The bacteria can remain suspended in the air for hours, potentially infecting anyone who breathes them in. Not everyone who inhales TB bacteria gets sick, however. Some people’s immune systems immediately kill the bacteria. In others, the bacteria remain in a latent, or dormant, state. TB bacteria cause death of tissue in body organs they infect.