Kyle Verfaillie is an inspiration. The Bloemfontein teenager was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s Syndrome and underwent a left hemispherectomy (a rare surgery during which half of the brain is either removed or disconnected from the other half) in 2017. His health notwithstanding, last year he entered the South African leg of the Toyota Dream Car Art Contest in which he finished third in his category (12- to 15-year-olds). He won a laptop for that round and his artwork was subsequently submitted to the World Competition in Japan.
With 531,692 entries from 78 different countries, 15-year-old Kyle was the only South African finalist in the global competition, which features innovative vehicle designs. Finishing third, Kyle walked away with a cheque for $3,000 (around R50,000), as well as a Finalist Certificate. He, together with eight other SA finalists, had entered the national competition last year before their drawings were judged at a global level.
To make the prize-giving day super special, Toyota South Africa (TSAM) arranged for some Cheetahs’ players — including Springbok Ruan Pienaar, Blitzboks’ veteran Rosko Speckman, Oupa Mohojé, Siya Masuku and Jeandré Rudolph — to attend the handover at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein.
“The prize money will be put away to be used for a caregiver or aftercare for when he can no longer attend the Lettie Fouché Special Needs School any more. Kyle is a positive child who understands that there are others out there who are worse off than him. He enjoys motivating others by his actions such as creating artwork, swimming, gym and playing ball as he cannot express his feelings in speech,” says Kyle’s father Marc Verfaillie.
The Toyota Dream Car Art Contest is intended to create a platform for children throughout the world to pique their interest in cars, and even help them feel the joy and importance of having a dream. The brainchild of Toyota Motor Corporation President and CEO Akio Toyoda, who wanted to inspire children to use the power of dreams and imagination, the contest is also aimed at nurturing the creativity of the next generation of great inventors, thinkers and dreamers.
The competition is open to children aged 15 and younger and comprises three categories: Under 8, 8 to 11 years and 12 to 15 years. The competition is made up of the National and the World Contest. The National Contest is held in each of the participating countries. The top five contestants win prizes on a national level and the top three in each category are subsequently entered into the international competition, which is judged in Japan.
The art contest was first held in Japan in 2004 and has grown to become one of the largest international art competitions in the world.