Stew inspires people to “Get out and give it a go”

Stew inspires people to “Get out and give it a go”

March 18, 2024

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

‘Ran’ 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.

Stew Sexton learning to ride at New Zealand Riding for the Disabled in Masterton.

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.

Stew Sexton horse trekking in Nepal during 2001.

He trained for the 100km March 2024 event from October 2023 and he described 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 utilised his Eastbourne home there as a base that he could call into “every fifteen to twenty kilometres to refuel and use the accessible bathroom.”

Funds were raised for NZRDA through a Give-A-Little page and Stew was very happy with the final result of over $7,000.

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

He hopes the 100km run that he has completed can inspire others to “get out and give it a go’.

“Stew Rides Again” took place in Eastbourne on 16 March 2024.

Stew Sexton with his friends and family after running 100km.
Stew Sexton celebrating at the finish line.

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