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Stew Rides Again

On March 16 2024, Wellington man Stew Sexton is going to 'run' 100km around his Eastbourne neighbourhood to raise funds for New Zealand Riding for the Disabled (NZRDA).

'Run' is in inverted commas, as Mr Sexton lives with spina bifida and completes distance events using his "everyday wheelchair".

Stew Sexton chose to raise funds for NZRDA in part to repay the organisation for the life-changing help and transferable skills learning to ride a horse gave him when he was a child.

He describes himself in 2016 as, "overweight and underfit", so he began running, and competed in his first marathon in 2019. The afterglow of that event spurred him on to look for longer events.

He completed other ultra-distance fundraising events and then went looking closer to home to raise funds for a New Zealand charity — and chose NZRDA.

Mr Sexton's journey with NZRDA began, as for many other people, in his childhood.

"When I was a kid doctors told Mum and Dad that I wouldn't sit up on my own, I wouldn't crawl, but I got the strength and confidence to do that from riding. It was a great core workout which has helped me sit in a chair," said Stew.

Looking back at it now, Stew believes his experience at NZRDA was life-changing, “It gave me balance, confidence being around people and animals, along with an empathy for others," he said.

These skills were put into practice when he was able to cross the Himalayas on horseback in 2001.

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He's been training for the 100km March event since October last year and describes his training regime: "I start the weeks with a short run of anything from five to twelve kilometres. By midweek I'm up to 21km for a training run, then I do longer runs at weekends."

Stew will use his Eastbourne home there as a base that he can call into "every fifteen to twenty kilometres to refuel and use the accessible bathroom."

Funds are being raised for NZRDA through a Give-A-Little page. To date, just over $4,000 has been pledged. Stew hasn't got a specific target in mind but says it would be great to raise over $10,000.

By day Stew Sexton is a senior accessibility advisor in Parliament.

He hopes his 100km run can inspire others to "get out and give it a go'.

“Stew Rides Again” takes place in Eastbourne on March 16th. People can support his fundraising effort for RDA at:

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