PINETOWN Fever reporter chatted to the first Mr Deaf SA 2016, Gérard Kroese, about his life and achievements. PF: Where did you grow up and where do you live now? GK: I was born in Pretoria, but grew up in Bethlehem in the Free State where I also matriculated from Witteberg High School in Bethlehem. My family moved to Pretoria after I finished school where I studied at the University of Pretoria. I was recently offered a post in Durban and live in Pinetown. PF: What is your fondest childhood memory? GK: Obtaining my first century as a U9 cricket player for my school. I dreamt about the first time I would achieve the milestone and celebrated like the pros do by taking off their helmet and lifting their bat in the air - but that day I forgot to do so. PF: What makes you happy? GK: Seeing people achieving success and staying humble. PF: What did you want to be as a child? GK: Other than Spiderman, I wanted to become a Formula 1 racing driver. PF: When did you decide to take part in MDSA? GK: Given that this is the first Mr Deaf SA, I saw this as an opportunity to inspire others and to share my experience that might change a deaf or hearing person’s life someday. But most importantly I used this as an opportunity to make my message, ‘you are able’ clear. PF: How do you feel about being the first Mr Deaf SA? GK: It is a big honour to be crowned the first Mr Deaf SA. For me it is more than a title or a crown - it is an opportunity where I can show deaf and hearing people that every individual has the ability to achieve success in any area of their life if they use the abilities to their full potential. PF: How do you deal with the responsibilities that come with your title? GK: I have a great team who support me and deal with the necessary matters. Living day by day and ensuring that my diary is up to date helps with planning. I also use the “how to eat an elephant” approach, it helps me to break up big projects into smaller and manageable tasks. PF: What do you do in your spare time? GK: My passion is the corporate world and insurance industry and I spend most of my time with friends, family and discovering new adventures and interesting places. PF: What advice have you got for a disabled person who doesn’t think they can achieve their dreams? GK: Your abilities are more important than your disabilities. You are already equipped with all necessary abilities, it is your responsibility to know what they are and how to use them. PF: What are your future plans? GK: Preparations for Mr Deaf World that will be held in Prague Czech Republic this year. Getting involved in promoting deaf sport in South Africa by identifying and creating opportunities thereof. I want to encourage people with a hearing impairment that they can live their dreams and passions in every area. My professional career is on a drift, a place where I am free to live out my passion for the corporate world.