Having bagged almost every skating accolade imaginable, both locally and internationally, since the age of 11, Jean-Marc Johannes is a legend among skateboarders.
To date, he has broken seven Guinness World Records and is a four-time world record holder for pro-skating.
This past year, he added another title to his name. That of an SABMR ambassador.
While he’s wowing crowds in the skate park, he’s creating awareness for bone marrow stem cell donation too.
Since taking up the reins as an ambassador for the SABMR, he has used his influence to drive awareness among the youth.
“It’s been very rewarding,” he says. “The ambassadorship has given me a chance to give back and do something good. I always believed that skateboarding was more than just a sport and that it had the power to help drive positive change in society.
“Having had a family member diagnosed with cancer, the cause is close to my heart, and I want to give it my all.”
In the last year, Johannes hosted various skateboarding workshops at high schools where he shared information on bone marrow stem cell donation to encourage teens to sign up once they turn 16. He also co-hosted a successful SABMR Awareness Day at Battery Park, a popular skateboarding venue in Cape Town.
Johannes says in many communities, bone marrow stem cell donation is a foreign concept.
“We will often hear of a child in our community that has been diagnosed with blood cancer, but are unaware that many more are battling the illness at the same time and that their chance of survival is slim due to a lack of donors of colour.
“Bone marrow stem cell donation is very much misunderstood in our community and is therefore taboo. That’s why it’s so important to equip them with the right information.”
The pro skateboarder says the gift of life is not something that you can put a price on.
“It would mean the world to me if I was identified as a match and could give someone a chance of living a full and healthy life.”
He says it’s important for everyone to play their part.
“If we all use our respective social media platforms for good by sharing positive experiences around bone marrow stem cell donation, we will be able to slowly chip away at false notions that keep people from becoming donors.”