Joost was a ruby legend! Inspiration often comes from the most unexpected of places, Joost was no exception…
Back in april 2011, I was invited to take part in an often taken for granted fund-raising golf day for Joost, when I was golf salesman by day, painter by night, I had the privilege of being connecting to Rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen, one of the greats of rugby….
This was at his first Dubai based J9 fundraiser on the Majlis Golf Course, Emirates Golf Club 2011 (where I was employed) during the Rugby World Cup Finals. Joost, this former rugby legend had sadly been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease disease, a rare condition that progressively damages parts of the nervous system, leading to muscle weakness, often with visible wasting.
Some 6 years later, barely 3 days ago, he sadly lost his battle to the disease….
So I wanted to share what a positive effect the man had on me and inspired me to keep on keeping on following my passion and that burning desire to stride out into the unknown….
So the golf day itself Joost was perched up on the hip on the iconic 4th par 3 of the Majlis course. He hit a 7 iron 4 feet from the pin in a ‘beat the Joost’ on the 4th hole (none of us did- he nailed it) then calmly waited for the next unsuspecting 4 ball to come and try and beat him!
When I introduced myself on the tee he asked me what I did and despite being employed by the Golf Club I replied, quite sheepishly, ‘An Artist’.
“Cool” he replied, “That’s cool”.
In his speech later that evening reminded the room that ‘you don’t know what’s around the corner’ and he remembered me as an Artist as we said our goodbyes, which inspired me to go on, keep painting and to follow my dream…..
At a time when very few believed or accepted me as an Artist, and , in all fairness, why would they!?
That night, he made me realise that the party can’t go on forever…..
It irritated me – the injustice of his condition and thousands of others with their struggles all over the world. I painted throughout the night, driven on my the often false, superficial environment of the Golf Club that was getting under my skin, along with the acrylic paint, still in my nails!
Next morning, on 40 minutes sleep I sat at the regular now seemingly pointless ‘Management / Job justification meeting where I spoke from the heart.
Granted these meetings have their place to keep the wheels of the corporate world moving but…
ENOUGH! There must be more to life than this!
It started to sink in during the days ahead that this disease (Also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ALS) occurs when specialist nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord called motor neurones stop working properly, known as neurodegeneration. Motor neurones control important muscle activity, such as gripping, walking, speaking, swallowing and breathing.
Just think about that for a nano-second before you jump back onto your facebook profile for a sneaky peek. You see, as this condition progresses, people with motor neurone disease will find some or all of these activities increasingly difficult. Eventually, they may become impossible, such a contrast to how he once ruled the rugby fields as a formidable scrum half….
Golf and fundraising for The J9 Foundation
As I ploughed on, trying to make my way in the surreal world of Art Joost’s words stayed with me and as the days turned into weeks, months marched on and years passed by with other events for this great cause happening up at The Els Club….
At the Arabian Ranches and in 2014 & 2015 closer to home, The Track Meydan when I’d become Artist in residence….
J9 Sox golf tournament
It was now one of the wackiest golf tournament in the region, the J9SOX Challenge grew from strength to strength as sadly, the former South Africa rugby player and MND sufferer weakened. The tournament and charity dinner raised awareness and much needed funds for the J9 Foundation….
I had to dig deep to find a fitting Artwork that could do justice to Joost, his foundation and those supporting and opted to go for a limited edition print of $UPERMAN from the 2013 Money Collection….
With a brand new $UPERMAN print….
Embellished with sand from The Track, Meydan golf….
Embraced and wecolmed by the unmissable J9 SOX supporters!
With Greg Holmes who played golf continuously for 24 hours for this great cause!!
Job done – off with the sandy Superman! Fun and games at the evening fund raiser, with a positive and grinning Joost….
It was an honour to support this cause and the words of ‘you don’t know what’s around the corner’ still ringing in my ears, pushing me on….trying to inspire others to be SUPER in their own way….
Thanks to Joost, his attitude, words of wisdom and courage for giving me the nudge I needed! Saddened by the loss of a legend this week with the J9 foundation living on.
To educate the public and medical practitioners about Motor Neurone Disease and it’s devastating effects on both the patient and their families. To provide better emotional and physical care on initial diagnosis of a patient.
RIP legend Joost Van Der Westhuizen
In the next weekly article I’ll be running through a recent commission entitled ‘Pounding your ear$’ recently presented to Sunderland A.F.C.
Meantime if you’d like to get amongst it with a creative and change workshops don’t hesitate to drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org, by pigeon carrier, telegraph, fax, phone, postcard, linked in message, billboard, loudspeaker or through channelling intentions of the highest order on your rich journey of self-acutalisation!