The athletes who go that extra mile for charity

2011-05-26 00:00

A LARGE part of the Comrades Marathon is about promoting social responsibility and giving back to the community. The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) does this through its AmaBeadiBeadi campaign, which encourages runners to raise funds for the Wetlands Conservation Trust, the Sports Trust, Pink Drive, Community Chest and the Starfish Greathearts Foundation.

However, there are also many runners who raise funds for charities beyond the Comrades banner. Some come from as far as the United States, such as Ritchie Miller, who has raised over R400 000 for the South African Children’s Resiliency Project’s charity, Indawo Yethemba. The project provides homes for grandmothers raising children orphaned by Aids.

The 47-year-old pastor from Atlanta hopes to raise over R600 000, and has come to run in his first Comrades.

Pietermaritzburg local Zaheer Cassimjee is also setting out on his first attempt at the Comrades, to raise funds for the Quadriplegic Society.

“I’m only running to raise funds … And to give back to the less fortunate,” said Cassimjee, whose father was involved in an accident which left him disabled.

“Disabled people like my father have so much strength. The Comrades requires endurance and strength. It’s a way of highlighting the strength of a disabled person.”

Durban’s Fano Zungu will be running his seventh Comrades carrying the South African National Blood Services’ (SANBS) Blood Buddy on his back.

With a metal frame and almost a metre tall, the chubby red figure is no easy burden.

Ianthe Exall, provincial head of marketing for SANBS, said Zungu does this every year. “It is not enough that he is prepared to run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg for the love of it, but he is also prepared to carry a rather large round Buddy every step of the way.

“His commitment to blood donation is to be commended and this is one way that he tries to get the message across to all communities that without people coming forward to donate blood, patients will die.”

To donate to one of these charities contact: Zahir Cassimjee at; African Children’s Resiliency Project at ­ or 033 326 1464; or SANBS at 0800 119 031 or

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