Big Heart 750

From 19–24 June 2011, eight middle-aged, relatively unfit Momentum employees will run a gruelling 750km from Centurion to Durban.  The runners aim to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke, and much-needed funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa (HSFSA).

In South Africa, approximately one stroke occurs every six minutes and five heart attacks occur every hour.  By medical estimates, every one death as a result of a heart attack or stroke, there are three people who will survive such an event.

These facts are what made Kevin Letord, Head of Momentum Risk Marketing, determined to raise awareness of life-threatening diseases such as heart attacks and stroke, of the need for South African consumers to make lifestyle changes and of the need to adequately provide for their families when life-changing events such as death, disability or critical illness occur.

“At Momentum Myriad, the highest claims for long-term risk products are for heart attacks, stroke and cancer and we felt it was our duty to do something radical to make sure that the general public were made aware of this problem”.

Average Joes

That “something” culminated in the decision to present eight “average Joes” with this challenge.  “We just asked eight guys who work together, who don’t do much exercise and if we are honest, fit the high risk profile that we are talking about,” Letord said.  “Only one of the guys is a regular runner and one is a cyclist.  Six of the eight men have above average BMIs and five of them, high cholesterol.”

The brave runners are Stephen van Niekerk, Jurgens Krynauw, Johann le Roux, Bertus Visser, Jaco Oosthuizen, Rimesh Solari, Brian Gibbon and Bertie Nel.  Letord was going to be part of the group until he tore his knee ligaments during training and was forced to channel all his efforts into managing the team.

“You cannot just wake up one morning and decide to run to Durban – there is a huge amount of planning that goes into it”, Letord added.  As one cannot run on the N1 and N3 highway, the route winds its way along the scenic roads through four provinces and every municipality (and sub-municipality!) along the way needed to be approached for permission to run on the roads in their area.  Add to this the medical backup and the rigorous training programme and one will begin to understand that the successful completion of this self-imposed challenge will be no mean feat!

Relay runs

The team will run in relays, with each runner hitting the road for two sessions of 50 minutes each day.  They plan to start at 5:30 every morning and need to cover approximately 120km per day in order to complete the 750km challenge.

Dr Vash Mungal-Singh, CEO of the HSFSA, immediately came on board when the idea was presented to her.  “I am extremely excited and inspired to ‘walk the talk’ with Momentum Myriad, i.e. promote good health whilst supporting a worthy cause.  As a non-profit organisation, the HSFSA relies heavily on corporate South Africa to assist with funding to continue our vital work in fighting heart disease and stroke, saving lives and supporting those affected by these lifestyle diseases.  I look forward to running the last leg of the relay.  Together, we indeed can!”

The runners are calling on all South Africans to show how big their hearts are by donating money towards the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA. 

Ways to support:

For more information you can like them on facebook here. For every 5000 Facebook fans that “like” The Big Heart 750 page, Momentum will donate an additional R25,000.00 to The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa. You can also visit the Big Heart blog here.

(The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA, Press release, June 2011)

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