Blessings rain down on Knysna marathon beneficiaries

Among its many wonderful attributes is the SPAR Knysna Forest Marathon’s impact on civic organisations helping those in need.

Renowned for the tradition of runners leaving behind their clothing for the less fortunate to keep warm in winter, the event also raises funds for designated NGOs each year.

The 38th running of the marathon on Saturday, July 8, will be no different.

The Vermont Centre Old Age Home, Loeriehof Old Age Home, Epilepsy South Africa (South Cape-Karoo region) and Sinethemba Youth Development Centre are all set to benefit.

Vermont Centre, in Hornlee, was established in 1995 and renders 24-hour care to 60 elderly residents.

A new board had only recently been appointed and being named a marathon beneficiary could not have come at a better time, said chairperson Mark Laminie.

“It’s such a blessing,” he said.

“Blessing” was also the word used by Loeriehof on receiving the news that it would be a recipient of marathon proceeds.

The facility offers residents spiritual care in the form of ministering and worship and emotional therapy through family participation, outings, counselling and creative workshops.

Manager Simone de Jager said Covid-19 had taken a psychological toll on residents and staff and on top of that fundraising had been difficult during the pandemic.

“We haven’t found our feet yet as far as fundraising is concerned. To have this boost in such difficult economic times is such a blessing from the community and organisations involved.

“The fact that they see us in this light is very special and we are so grateful.”

Sinethemba, which celebrates its 20th birthday this year, cares for youth at risk, particularly those living on Knysna’s streets. It also provides development and self-sufficiency training programmes to school dropouts. 

“The recognition of the Knysna Forest Marathon means a lot in this economic crisis,” said Sinethemba director Michael Smith, who confirmed that their needs had escalated over the past year.

“Our kids are not coping at school, so we are trying to offer them basic education. This means taking them into town, which creates extra transport costs.

“We appreciate all the support we can get.”

The epilepsy NGO in the town offers a residential facility, day-care and community outreach programmes as well as income-generating projects.

Marketer Ashleigh Smith explained that funds raised would be used to provide 24-hour specialised care to 50 adults living with debilitating epilepsy and other neurological conditions.

“Our day-care is a service offered to disabled members of our community who need daily stimulation and a safe environment to spend their day while their caregivers are at work.”

The centre also offers epilepsy awareness and education as well as psychosocial support in the greater Southern Cape and Karoo areas.

Without donations the organisation would not be able to offer care, Smith said.

“Donations are the lifeblood of our organisation. We rely heavily on them.”

The Knysna Forest Marathon has attracted 7 000 entrants, surpassing the total of 6 500 who took part in 2022.

The marathon (42.2km) and half-marathon (21.1km) events are famed for taking participants deep into the forest and offering breathtaking views of the estuary and Knysna Heads.

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CAPTION: Knysna’s Sinethemba Youth Development Centre is one of four NGOs set to benefit from funds raised by the SPAR Knysna Forest Marathon this year. Photo: Sinethemba Youth Development Centre

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