Ahoy! Land, shops ahead

2016-03-08 06:00
Greg Bertish nearing the end of his adventure in the V&A Waterfrontin the Little Optimist on Saturday. PHOTO: gary van dyk

Greg Bertish nearing the end of his adventure in the V&A Waterfrontin the Little Optimist on Saturday. PHOTO: gary van dyk

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Sailing the seven seas can be the adventure of a lifetime, but Greg Bertish took to a smaller “sea” to raise funds for a good cause.

On Friday the big wave surfer and former South African lifesaving Surf Ski Masters champion was in the V&A Waterfront to set sail in an optimist sailing dinghy, called the Little Optimist, to tackle the dangerous waters of ... a paddling pool.

Bertish, being the optimist that he is, believed that he could conquer all odds in the tiny vessel to inspire and promote positive belief in children while raising funds for the Children’s Hospital Trust.

For 24 hours the brave Bertish sailed the perilous seas of a paddling pool.

The 44-year-old father has already proved to the world that he too can battle the odds.

At the age of 31, he underwent open-heart surgery to remove bacteria which had attacked his aortic valve. It took a year of rehabilitation for Bertish to recover.

His stunt at the V&A Waterfront precedes a more intrepid adventure that he will embark on next month.

The Little Optimist will sail the actual sea, covering 200km from Cape Hangklip to Saldanha Bay around Cape Point – an area where no optimist has gone before.

“We are so grateful that the Little Optimist will be taking to the high seas to raise money and awareness for the thousands of little patients that are treated at the Children’s Hospital from around Africa,” says Louise Driver, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Trust.

“The hospital manages 260 000 patient visits a year, a third of whom are under the age of one year.

“These injured and ill children need a world-class paediatric intensive care unit to offer them life-saving support, and it’s people like Greg who contribute to making this dream a reality.

“These children face a battle every day on their road to recovery, so it’s a wonderful metaphor for the challenge that they face. We wish the Little Optimist the best of luck on his adventure.”

Too few patient beds

The hospital houses the largest ICU for children in Africa. Children in need of specialised and emergency critical care are referred from all over the continent.

Yet this vital unit only has 22 of about 35 ICU beds set aside for children in the province.

This ICU is in serious need of an upgrade and expansion to add beds, develop a high-care unit for neonatal patients as well as establish isolation cubicles. The high-care unit and the isolation cubicles will ensure optimal treatment through better infection control, which is critical in an ICU.

“I know me as an adult would have helped me as a kid, to believe in myself sooner, dream bigger and reach for more,” said Bertish.

“I believe I can do this for thousands of sick and needy kids. Help the Little Optimist and myself to inspire them.”


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