16 October 2012
Supporting charities has become a key part of the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon and this year’s event, held on 5 and 6 October, was no different as former Springbok captain Corne Krige and Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley lent their support to the fund-raising efforts.
Krige, who competed in the race for a first time, raised R70 000 for schools in desperate need of financial support in the Cradock area.
Delighted with the support he received, Krige has pledged his support to the event and his campaign on an annual basis in years to come.
“It was only the first year that we ran this campaign and so to have raised what we did is fantastic,” he said. “It’s been so pleasing to see how everyone came on board and offered their support so generously.
“It’s great to know that we’re able to help others, especially young children, with this money and to see those children’s faces will be amazing,” he added.
Krige, who teamed up with his former high school friend Billy van Zyl and race committee chairman Pieter Marais in a K3 (three-seater kayak), admitted to being a little nervous going into the opening day of the two-day spectacle.
Together with his relative lack of experience on a river, he also had to overcome the difficult emotions the occasion brought back as he paddled with his late niece and nephew in mind, while Van Zyl, whose son drowned tragically six years ago, also had an emotional mountain to overcome going into the event.
Near perfect adventure
The significance of the trio’s efforts to help other young children in need, however, soon took over and a near perfect adventure unfolded before them.
“For both Billy and I, it was obviously quite an emotional and stressful time. It was particularly tough for Billy, who lost a child to water six years ago and now had to conquer a bit of a fear and get back into water himself, so I was very glad to be there with him and try help through it all,” Krige explained.
The efforts by the former rugby star had already raised a significant amount towards what has become known as the Corne Krige Charity when it received a further boost from Olympic K1 500m sprint bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley, who generously donated one of her Olympic tops from the London Games for auctioning at Saturday’s prize giving, with all proceeds going towards the drive.
Close to her heart
Charity, especially the support of young children, is something particularly close to Hartley’s heart and the paddling sensation was thrilled to be able to support Krige’s campaign.
“I have quite a soft spot for charity and I’ve always hoped that my efforts and achievements when I paddle will help inspire people to achieve whatever they set out to,” she said.
“If there are, however, other ways that I can try use my name or achievements to help those in need out, then I love to help, and this was definitely one of those times.
Explaining her decision to donate one of her tops, Hartley said she had tried to help out with fund-raising by selling bits and pieces, but with trying to prepare for her first river race since 2008 she found it quite tough, “so, I thought giving one of my Olympic tops to be auctioned would be a small way in which I could try help a little more.”
Despite economic times being tough around the world, the item’s popularity was soon clear for all to see as bidders battled it out for the coveted item.
“When I heard the opening price was R1 000, I thought there was no ways it would even be sold at all. Then, as people started bidding and the price went up and up, I just stood there with my mouth open. I couldn’t believe it!” said Hartley.
The item was finally sold to Port Elizabeth-based Paul Lynch, who has been heavily involved in sport at a youth level for many years.
“I’ve been involved in the junior section of the local lifesaving club for years and was part of the nippers before that. I also spent many years as a mini hockey coach,” explained Lynch.
“This year’s Hansa Fish was my fourth Fish, but this time I had the privilege of paddling with my 16-year-old daughter in her first Fish and after spending the past three months of training hard with her I really can appreciate just how incredible it is to be able to do something like that with your child.
“I’m also fortunate enough to be in a position where I can afford to do things like [bid in the auction] and so it was fantastic to be able top off what had been a great weekend on the water by doing something like this,” he added.
Knowing his curiosity with auctions, Lynch had been discouraged from taking part by those close to him. However, his final bid of R25 000 was successful and he now plans to enable his fellow paddlers to view the item before finding a special spot for it in his own home.
“I’m just a sucker for auctions. Being in the wool industry, I go to auctions on almost a weekly basis, so when it was announced at prize giving my wife immediately turned to me and said ‘No!’,” Lynch laughed.
“It will probably go on loan to Bluewater Canoe Club, my local club, for a little while where everyone can then get the opportunity to have a look at it and be part of it,” he added.
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