26 Oct, 2017

Athletes With a Cause - October

Zoe Papadakis
Bikes for Polokong
Bikes for Polokong

We have so many athletes in South Africa hitting the roads and trails to raise money for or awareness of important, deserving causes, and we want to give them the publicity they deserve for their efforts.

Running for the Kids - By Zoe Papadakis

I am a KZN-based trail runner and when I tackled my first ultra-trail run in August, the 50km Umgeni River Run, I decided to run it to raise funds for Child Welfare Durban and District, so I put out a call for family, friends and members of the public to ‘sponsor a kilometre.’ It was such an incredible, liberating, amazing, tough and challenging adventure, and it was insanely exciting to place second in the race, but there were times that I wanted to just stop, cry and give-up… until I thought about the amazing support everyone had shown to my fundraising campaign, and that kept me going.

I want to share the reasons why I did this, in the hope that it might engage the public to support the initiative. I recently came on board with the organisation as a brand ambassador, and got to know more about what they do. The organisation manages over 4500 different cases involving children that have been at risk. They have several Child and Youth Care Centres that care for 260 children, and nine Community Family Homes, catering for 54 orphans (including siblings). These children have been through so much, and their stories are truly heartbreaking, yet they still manage to smile, to have hope, and to love.

These kids need love, and direction, and this is what Child Welfare is trying to provide. They rely on the public for funding, to provide so many different services to the community, and it is always a struggle to generate enough to do so, and to cloth, feed and care for these kids. This is why I thought it would be ideal to use my running as a fundraiser for them. I think of these children when I am tired, when I don’t want to go out and do a 35km training run, when my body hurts and I want to give up. Because they inspire me with their zest for life, with their strength… and in some way, I hope that my running will not only help with their funding needs, but will also inspire the kids not to give up on their dreams.

For more information, go to or contact them on or 031 312 9313

A Bike for Every Child - By Craig Caldwell

I am a childhood cancer survivor of 30 years, having been diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) at the age of 13 when growing up in Vanderbijlpark. That’s why I became involved with CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation, and besides helping with Camp Quality, a camp for children with cancer, I take part in cancer walks, ran the Comrades Marathon, and ran from Joburg to Durban, all to raise funds for CHOC. I also created the comedy show Laughing Matters and roped in other comedians to back my cause.

Earlier this year my friend, radio presenter and fellow comedian Sean Stevens received a donation of 17 bicycles to give to a worthy cause, and we decided to look for a reliable place to donate them to. Through my fundraising work, I have had dealings with Louise Coxen, Director of Polokong Children’s Village in Sebokeng, which has five houses accommodating 50 kids permanently, and another 350 kids are fed daily through an outreach programme. So we set about asking on social media for more old bikes to be donated, as our intention was to give every permanent child a bicycle.

We knew it would be difficult, considering the current economic climate, but people like Christo and Michelle Viljoen of Bernies Joint in Koedoespoort, Pretoria took up the challenge. Christo and I have been mates from way back in the 80’s, and he said he would deliver 50 bikes. He and Michelle then hounded people for donations and bikes, and on 23 June, Christo, Michelle and the crew from Bernies as well as a group of car fanatics hit the road to Old Vaaltonians Sports Club for the handover.

In Total 76 bicycles were handed over, the majority being brand new – and we still had Sean’s 17 bikes to look forward to! (He was busy with work commitments at the time.) This meant we could give every child a bicycle, and allow them to keep their bike when they leave the home, and we are now in the position to give a new child that enters the home a bicycle as well! It was amazing to see how the crew and friends of Christo and Michelle opened their hearts and wallets and made many children’s dreams come true.


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