Joost van der Westhuizen: How an SA rugby legend is using Twitter for good

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After what can only be described as a tumultuous few years, Springbok rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen has turned to Twitter to garner support for his new charitable foundation.

In February 2009 his private life was bared open in a scandal involving affairs and drugs which translated into a very public break-up with singer-star Amor Vittone. In 2011 Joost was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND) which is incurable.

In his fight against MND he has created a charitable foundation, the J9 Foundation. According to the foundation website, it was created “to allow people , companies and friends to support the quality of life programs available within this organisation”

He has now recently joined the ranks of celebrities on Twitter and has promised that all his tweets are his own, using his celebrity status to not only connect with his fans but to encourage him to join his quest in supporting people with MND.

His Twitter account has shown a mixture of quotes for his charity as well as open-hearted tweets about his struggles against the disease, thanking his supporters, as well as venting some frustrations against his estranged spouse. He has openly criticised her on twitter for refusing access to his children. (While she in turn has openly chastised him and criticised his fans).

As Twitter grows and matures, more celebrities will begin to use the medium to reach out to their fan-base in support of particular causes. Joost has given fans the unique opportunity of connecting with him on a very personal level, seeing both the good and bad days that his disease supports him.

Whatever your views on the matter, one can only say that he is very brave to make his personal life even more public and we wish him well.

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