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Clocking up miles to help save lives

Hilton College ‘Run for Lives’ initiative

Picture: Nathalie Desiree Mottet/Unsplash

By Garth Johnstone

As hunger and the socioeconomic fallout from Covid-19 and the nationwide lockdown continue to have a devastating impact on South Africans, Hilton College’s pupils have started a project to help some of those affected.

They have started a “Run for Lives” initiative, which will support three communities through The Domino Foundation, Ithemba Projects and Witkoppen Clinic.

Their efforts are part of the broader school community’s commitment to make a difference in this time of disaster.

Hlumelo Notshe.

The Meander Chronicle spoke to three of the senior pupils involved in the concept, Hlumelo Notshe (head of school), Constandino Christodoulou (head of sport) and Brett Geyser (head of community), all in Grade 12.

They said, “With the coronavirus pandemic having an impact on every person across SA, we felt it was our responsibility, as boys of Hilton, to give back to aid those most affected by the lockdown and pandemic. Thus, we wanted an initiative which would allow us to incorporate the entire Hilton community.

“This sparked the idea of “Run For Africa, Run For Lives”, where for every kilometre a boy runs, they are sponsored respective amounts by friends, family and companies. They then tally their donations, the sum of which is then donated to three different charities we have partnered with.”

Constandino Christodoulou.

We asked the boys how they would approach fundraising.

“With the project launching very recently, we have mainly targeted our local Hilton community to get involved and donate funds. We have been so grateful for the positive reception we’ve received. Already people from outside our community have got involved, which is amazing. We hope to grow bigger and expand the project to include companies, perhaps some other schools and the wider South African community. The more people involved and running, means the more lives we can uplift.”

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Brett Geyser.

We asked why they opted to support the three charities chosen.

“The three beneficiaries are Ithemba Projects, The Domino Foundation and Witkoppen Clinic. We chose these organisations because we felt that they would best fulfil our mandate – feeding children and helping those in need. We wanted participants to feel as though they were having an impact on their immediate surroundings. So the locations of these organisations are spread in a way that they represent the general areas in which the boys of Hilton College live – the Midlands area, Durban and Johannesburg.

“We have worked with Ithemba Projects before and we have developed a strong connection. The interaction with the kids from Ithemba has specifically touched our hearts and therefore we feel as if it is of utmost importance that we support them during their time of dire need.”

All three are involved in sport. Constandino Christodoulou is a South African football youth international as well as a player for Hilton College’s First XI soccer team. Hlumelo Notshe has also represented the First XI soccer team and Brett Geyser is the Hilton College Golf captain.

The aim is to get lots of people – sponsored per kilometre – running, to raise funds for charities to assist with Covid-19 relief. Picture: Clique Images/Unsplash

“However, it really is beyond the three of us. As a collective, we are aiming to run (virtually) from Africa’s northernmost tip (Ras Ben Sakka) to its southernmost tip (Cape Town), effectively running across Africa. This equates to about 11 172km,” they said.

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“Of course, this is no easy feat, but we are confident that with the support of our community, we can do it. We chose Africa as our yardstick because it’s our home and represents the many different cultures that populate not only our school but the wider South Africa. We really saw no better symbol of unity.”

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How easy is it to register?

“Registering for this initiative is extremely easy. All you have to do is download the free ‘Strava’ app, which is available on both IOS and Android platforms. Once downloaded, create an account and then join the ‘Hilton College Run For Lives’ running group by tapping on the ‘search’ bar within the app. The app automatically tracks your runs and routes.

Weekly leaderboard

“For those of you who do not enjoy running with their devices, ‘Strava’ also allows you to register a ‘manual activity’. Once you are on the app, tap on the ‘+’ symbol, follow the instructions and your activity will be saved. We have a weekly leaderboard which allows others to see your hard work, get inspired themselves and compete for our coveted ‘Runner of the Week’ award.

“Details for the bank account for donation will all be found on the group. Once you have joined, get your friends and family, start running and save some lives. Furthermore, you don’t have to run. If you would still like to get involved, you are more than welcome to make a direct donation or sponsor one of us per kilometre we run! Any support is appreciated.”

The boys concluded: “It’s amazing to think we all saved lives by staying indoors and now we can do the same by running outdoors.”

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