Comrades Marathon runners from Brazil showcased the true spirit of The Ultimate Human Race this year when they donated more than 500 pairs of running shoes for distribution to the needy in the province.
The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) officially handed over the shoes to a local school and charity in Inchanga, in Durban’s Outer West region today (Monday, 23.10.2017).
CMA CSI Committee Convener, Alen Hattingh said at the handover, “The Comrades Marathon Association prides itself on its charitable endeavours and meaningful corporate social investment initiatives. These running shoes that have been so generously donated by hundreds of Brazilian athletes to needy children in our province is a testament to the goodwill and big-heartedness of Comrades runners.”
Nearly 300 pairs of shoes were handed over to schoolchildren at the Ethembeni School for the Physically Disabled and Visually Impaired. The school has become a major point of interest along the undulating Comrades Marathon route where the schoolchildren line up annually in support of the runners. It is an intensely emotional moment for many a Comrades participant to be encouraged and inspired on their personal odyssey by the courage and resilience of the overwhelmingly enthusiastic Ethembeni pupils.
The CMA’s International Brand Ambassador in Brazil, Nato Amaral who spearheaded the running shoe collection project back home in Sao Paulo, had this to say, “Every year, Comrades Marathon runners, and especially our Brazilian athletes, are deeply moved when running past the Ethembeni School for physically challenged children. Many of our runners wanted to do something tangible for the children besides just donating money to the school. We are just honoured to have been able to contribute in a small but meaningful way.”
Ethembeni School Principal, Braam Mouton says, “We cannot thank the Comrades Marathon Association and its runners enough, especially the Brazilian athletes who made this project a reality. This token of goodwill has had a real significant impact on the children here today. We are grateful to all the people who put our children first and add to the everyday comfort of their lives. These shoes will certainly be put to good use.”
The balance of the running shoes was donated to the Community Chests of Pietermaritzburg and Durban for distribution via their community projects across the province.
The CMA has been at the forefront of charitable giving via its official Amabeadibeadi Charity Drive which benefits six officially recognised charities. Over the past decade, more than R30-million has been raised through the Comrades platform, driving support for the charitable sector and channelling funds to significant social and environmental projects.
CMA Chairperson, Sifiso Nzuza says, “Through the CMA’s charity initiatives, we have created the opportunity to give back and allow Comrades runners to contribute to significant projects in our country. It is our intention that we benefit the communities in which we operate and add value to the sport of athletics.”
Community Chest Director, Gordon McDonald says, “The Community Chests of Pietermaritzburg and Durban have been the beneficiaries of the CMA’s generous and substantial charity fundraising platforms for the longest time. This donation of running shoes from Brazilian Comrades runners is just fantastic. The legacy of such a project will have its impact for a long time to come in not just putting a pair of shoes on a child’s bare feet but going on to inspire these young children to get into running and perhaps even become a future road-running champ.”
CMA General Manager Chris Fisher says, “Doing good where we can is all part and parcel of the Comrades Marathon’s brand DNA and brand promise. This project is meaningful as it touches the lives of some the most disadvantaged children in our province. We thank our Brazilian runners for making this possible.”