Runner’s pain benefits needy kids

2020-01-28 06:00
Frank Steyn after his fundraising run.                  PHOTO: Supplied

Frank Steyn after his fundraising run. PHOTO: Supplied

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Through pain and discomfort, he fought for 56km to raise awareness for the needs of others.

Now Frank Steyn has accomplished his goal by buying and distributing 1 000 pairs of new school shoes to four schools in Mitchell’s Plain.

Steyn, from Run4Schools, says at the beginning of last year he was doing his after school programme at one of the schools when a boy asked him for a soccer ball.

“I told him I was not going to give him one because his parents would not be happy if his school shoes were broken (because of kicking the ball),” he says.

“But then another boy came to me and said ‘coach, I don’t even have school shoes’, and he showed me the soles were already coming off.”

He says most parents are not able to buy school shoes until the end of the month.

“I thought about what I could do to raise awareness about the importance of a good pair of school shoes.“I knew I had the Two Oceans ultra marathon coming up and I thought the best way to create awareness was to raise money and buy school shoes from it,” he says.

With the assistance of the Two Oceans office, Steyn set up a GivenGain weblink that encouraged anyone to donate to the cause.

“I did not reach my goal before leaving for a trip to the Netherlands. There I spoke a bit about what I was doing and everyone looked at me as if I were crazy, wondering if I would make it,” says Steyn.

The lack of confidence in his ability to reach the finish line had little to do with his physical fitness and more to do with his intended footwear, a pair of his matric school shoes.

“It was extremely uncomfortable and I lost my fourth and fifth toenails on my left foot. I just had to not think about how uncomfortable it was for me and focus on the drive and what the end would be for the children; walking in a good pair of school shoes. Not everyone’s parents can afford to buy school shoes,” he says.

He was initially shy of his original target, but residents and sponsors rallied around the cause as the race day approached.

“Before leaving South Africa, I raised R3 000 and thought I would just buy shoes with this and give it to needy recipients. When I looked at the link again, I had raised R66 402,” he says.

His initial target was R10 000, but thanks to his efforts, Woolworths’ charity branch, MySchool, contacted Steyn and doubled the money raised to R132 804, allowing him to purchase 1 000 pairs of shoes, run community outreach initiatives and further assist residents who reached out for help.

Shoes were previously handed out at Northwood and Alpine primary schools and Westridge High School. On Thursday 23 January, 50 pairs were handed out at Tafelsig Primary School, with an additional 50 pairs expected to be delivered soon.

Steyn says his 2020 race will again focus on the school shoes drive. “I am going to put pedal to the metal again and see if we can raise more money than last year,” he says.

“On the morning of the race, in my matric school shoes, people looked at me and asked if I was really going to do this. I am just really happy with everyone who supported me in this initiative.”

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