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We all have dreams and Liesl Schoonraad is no exception. Difference is, she made them come true.
Her dream was to swim from Robben Island to Cape Town, then to pull a ten-ton truck and then a Dakota aeroplane. She did all three, and came highly place in the SA strongwoman competition, all with minimal preparation when she was over the age of 39. This is a woman who not only found her physical strength but her inner strength as well.
Liesl remembers sharing her dream-swim with her schoolmates who didn’t take her seriously. She was always bigger than the other kids and got teased. Imagine being as tall as the teacher when you are only 11! Liesl was tough but she also felt the teasing.
After school Liesl began work as an architectural draftsperson, then she opened up her own firm doing renovations and building projects. She married, had two kids and then divorced. At the age of 39 she had done what most of us do: live our lives, work hard, provide for our families.
Then one day when she was 39 Liesl was watching TV with her kids. A programme about Cerebral Palsy came on and Liesl’s life changed. The people featured in the programme had such a challenging illness but still seemed happy. It hit her hard,‘ If they can be happy why aren’t I?’
Liesl decided that she had to regain her self, and her passion about life. She needed to re-emerge, to live out her dreams. So she took a huge Leap of Faith and she hasn’t looked back.
Liesl has now dedicated her life to speaking to schoolchildren about bullying and holding onto their dreams through her programme Strong 4 Life. The programme also engages with adults about dropping masks, becoming real and being the change you want to see in the world.
Find out more about Strong 4 Life
Watch a video on the ‘Will U Stand’ Worldwide Campaign Against Bullying