Sunday Times August 14 2005
Written by By Santosh Beharie
Paralysed charity stalwart dies
One of Durban's unsung heroes, Rod Colenbrander, died this week, a month after a cycling accident left him paralysed.
The Chief Executive of Operation Jumpstart and a member of the Community Centres Board, Colenbrander, 66, was instrumental in raising millions of rands for a variety of charities and NGOs in KwaZulu-Natal in recent years.
He died in the intensive care unit of Entabeni Hospital on Friday evening. Colenbrander was a married father of two.
An avid cyclist and former head of the old Natal Lotto, was left paralysed from the neck down after his bicycle hit an unmarked speedbump in Kloof View Road, Hillcrest, on July 9, according to his son Gary, 36.
"Dad had gone cycling with a friend and they decided to cycle along a particular road in Hillcrest for the first time that day."
"The two of them were cycling downhill when the accident occurred. As my father's bike hit the bump, he was thrown over the handle bars and hit the road head first," said Gary.
Colenbrander was diagnosed with Central Cord Syndrome and remained in a critical condition in hospital until his death.
"Unfortunately, chances for recovery for a 66-year-old in that condition, are very slim. But we've had tremendous support from family and friends. My mum, Bev, has been unbelievably strong throughout this ordeal," said Gary.
He said his father loved the outdoors and took up surfing at the age of 41. "At 59 he and I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro together. "He was always there for my brother Anton and I."
"My dad was in charge of distributing money from the old Natal Lotto to scores of organisations who would approach him for funding," said Gary.
Friend and colleague, Carol du Toit, the director of Sanca in Durban, described Colenbrander as an unsung hero who was passionate about improving the lives of the needy.
"He was the most compassionate and kindest man I have ever met. Rod was always humbled by the gratitude shown him by those he helped."
"I knew Rod because I am also a member of the Community Centres Board and was amazed at the dedication he put into his work."
"He assisted our organisation by raising funds for the purchase of a building in Empangeni and was also in the process of doing the same for us in Nongoma when he died."
"Rod donated millions of rands from the old Natal Lotto to a huge variety of charities and NGOs. He would actually go out to see for himself what organisations needed before donating any money."
"He was truly an unsung hero. What has happened to him is terribly sad and we are going to miss him and his fantastic sense of humour," said Du Toit.
Among those who benefited from Colenbrander's work were the Hospice, Famsa, Sanca, Child Welfare, churches, schools and a host of impoverished communities especially in rural KZN.
Rod the Rotarian
Named in Honour