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From Para to Dakar: Joey Evans’s story of defying all odds and reaching the Dakar finish line

‘I’ve realised that when things are really tough and there seems no hope for the future, it’s sometimes just Chapter One of a really cool story, and the ending is entirely up to you.’

From Para to Dakar

Joey Evans has always loved bikes, from his first second-hand Raleigh Strika at the age of six to the powerful off-road machines that became his passion later on in his life. His dream was one day to ride the most gruelling off-road race in the world, the 9000km Dakar Rally.

In 2007 his dream was shattered when he broke his back in a racing accident. His spinal cord was crushed, leaving him paralysed from just below his chest. Doctors gave him a 10 percent chance of ever walking again. Many would have given up and become resigned to life in a wheelchair, but not Joey Evans. Not only would he get back on his feet and walk, but he would also keep his Dakar dream alive. It was a long and painful road to recovery, involving years of intensive rehabilitation and training, but he had the love and support of both family and friends and an incredible amount of determination.

Joey shares the many challenges he and his family faced, relating the setbacks, as well as successes, along the way to the Dakar start line. But the start line was only the first goal – his sights were set on reaching the finish line, which he did in 2017 – the only South African to do so.
From Para to Dakar is so much more than the story of one man reaching the Dakar finish line. It is a story of friendship and respect, compassion and kindness. It is about defying the odds to reach a dream, it is about grit, endurance and raw courage, and it is inspiring in its true heroism.

“I heard Joey’s story from my friend Darryl in the days before Dakar 2017 and I was in awe of what he was hoping to achieve. The thing that struck me most when I met Joey was that he didn’t mention a single word about his ‘problems’ – he was just another guy lining up to do the gnarliest race in the world. To me, that said more about him than anything else. Good job, legend!”
- SAM SUNDERLAND (overall motorbike winner, Dakar 2017)

“Joey Evans is one of the most phenomenal people I have met in three decades of Carte Blanche. His story is one of unbelievable courage, tenacity and belief, blended with a very close bond with his wife Meredith and their four daughters.”
- DEREK WATTS (anchor and presenter on Carte Blanche)

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