Prominent charity focus at Dusi 2014

Pietermaritzburg – 2014 will once again see the Dusi Canoe Marathon heavily involved in some notable charity initiatives with the ever popular Charity Batch providing significant donations to the beneficiaries of the event. This year the Dusi Umgeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) as well as the newly launched Dusi Canoe Marathon Charity will be the recipients the money raised by the Charity batch.

The Charity Batch is made up of 60 boats with the 60 highest online bidders getting themselves into the coveted batch. The batch goes off early each morning, making it attractive to a number of social paddlers who would normally start much later in the day and so bear the brunt of the sun’s rays and the heat of the uMsundusi and uMngeni valleys.

DUCT is an organisation that was created by paddlers in 2006 to champion the environmental health of the uMsunduzi and uMngeni Rivers and, in the last eight years, has made an appreciable impact. DUCT is responsible for dealing with a number of issues that surround the rivers including monitoring water quality, dealing with erosion and pollution, combating the effects of sand mining as well the detrimental effects of water hyacinth on the river system.

DUCT is influential in trying to improve the quality of the water in the uMsundusi and uMngeni Rivers by improving sewerage infrastructure along the Dusi route, the rivers’ tributaries and further upstream. It’s employees seek to reduce the amount of solid waste in the rivers as well as industrial waste being pumped into these river systems. A large amount of time is spent trying to educate local communities about river conservation and maintenance of these systems. Thousands of people live along these rivers and so awareness of such issues is vital.

Elite paddlers and adventurists Kelvin Trautman and David Wood will be representing DUCT at the 2014 Dusi when they take off in A Batch on Thursday 13 February. The two have struck up a partnership between DUCT and Syngenta – who are the providers of the chemicals that are used to kill the invader species that are so prevalent along the uMsundusi and uMngeni Rivers – with Syngenta recognising the vital work that DUCT does in their mission.

The second charity that the Dusi Canoe Marathon will be working closely with in 2014 is the new Dusi Canoe Marathon Charity. The race winds its way through a number of valleys on its way to Durban and the organisers feel that it is important that they give back to the people in these settlements. The funds generated for the people in the valleys are used for projects which benefit the local people in consultation with the traditional leadership structures.

What also adds to the unique atmosphere and appeal of the Dusi Canoe Marathon are the personal charities and causes that a number of individual paddlers paddle for, seeking to create awareness about a wide variety of issues.

Cancer is a disease that affects numerous people worldwide on a yearly basis and many of the paddling community feel strongly about supporting initiatives that battle the disease. A number of paddlers taking part in this year’s Dusi hope to raise funds to aid in the fight or awareness of ways to combat or prevent the dreaded disease.

The ‘Piggy Paddle Mukkers Dusi Team’ will be paddling in memory of a friend of many of them and a fellow paddler Martin Piggott who passed away from Leukaemia in 2013. Previously the Muckers Dusi has been a competition within the race involving over twenty K2 crews who are light-heartedly handicapped and penalised for transgressions of spurious riles before an internal winner is eventually crowned.

This year, however, the Muckers Dusi gang will carry an added meaning as they seek to raise awareness about the importance of donating blood. Blood is constantly in short supply and creating awareness about the importance of donating blood is vital in combating Leukaemia.

The Lettie Paddle campaign is an initiative started by Danica Bartho for her close friend Nikki Haynes, currently battling against cancer, as a means Bartho to show Heynes her support as well as raise cancer awareness. The success of the initiative has however since seen it grow into one which encourages others to show their support of their own friends and family who have been affected by cancer. Debbie Lewis and Di Rietz will be taking on two charity’s this year with Lewis paddling for Lettie Paddle and Rietz paddling for a close friend of hers, Tracy Braun, who is suffering from colon cancer.

The two have decided that they will race in pink colours with pink being the colour of breast cancer and the most recognisable colour associated with cancer.

Two employees at EAP Active in Pietermaritzburg, Tracey Mason and Chandelle Lombard, have also decided to compete in this year’s Dusi for charity. The two ladies have found partners for the race and are attempting the 120km journey in conjunction with Esther House, a NGO based in Pietermaritzburg which provides shelter for women that have been victims of abuse and trafficking. The house is unique in that it aims to keep the women and their children together whilst also providing these women and children with all of the necessary care that they need.

The Dusi Canoe Marathon 2014 starts in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday 13 February and ends in Durban on Saturday 15 February 2014. More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za

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One of the major charities that benefits from the Dusi Canoe Marathon is the Dusi Umgeni Conservation Trust (DUCT). They play a major role in making the race happen every year with their controlling of water hyacinth as well as general maintenance along the uMsundusi and uMngeni Rivers. DUCT Field Manager Bart Fokkens (left) has been inspirational in alleviating the hyacinth problem along the river and is joined here with Working for Water’s Karen Hope (right). Andrew King/Gameplan Media

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