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Family Challenge helps realise children's dreams

Participants in the third annual SPAR Family Challenge next month will ensure that the dreams of even more terminally ill children in the East London area will be realised.

SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and advertising controller Roseann Shadrach said the proceeds from the event, which takes place on October 8, were earmarked for the Reach for a Dream Foundation (RFAD).

"They provide children with life-threatening illnesses the opportunity of realising their ultimate dream.

"It is important for us to give back to the community and that is why we have identified a beneficiary that serve the people of East London," she said.

"Family is one of the cornerstones of our brand and Reach for a Dream seek to alleviate the stress that is associated with having a child who has a life-threatening disease."

RFAD's Eastern Cape branch manager, Ronell Davel, said fulfilling children's dreams was incredibly rewarding and inspired hope.

"They forget all about their treatment and the pain that it brings. Their excitement is priceless."

She said the foundation assisted children aged three to 18 who are battling illnesses such as cancer, leukaemia, liver sclerosis, nephrotic syndrome, HIV and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Working with affected families took tact, compassion and empathy and their dream workers were therefore trained to interact with the children and their families, said Davel.

Reach for a Dream visit hospitals and other partners daily to build relationships with doctors and nurses, who refer kids that meet the criteria.

"Meeting Caster Semenya must have been the best dream so far," said Davel.

According to her, other memorable dreams included flying in a small plane, driving in a sports car on a racing track and interacting with giraffes.

"We also do regular projects like Queen for a Day for girls and Captain Courage for boys. This is a whole day of activity to enjoy with children who face similar challenges."

Reach for a Dream also have a weekend get-away initiative called Camp Sunshine, which includes activities such as talent shows, obstacle courses, campfire concerts and team-building exercises.

Davel said these created transforming bonding experiences with other children and families.

"We know that having a sick child can put a lot of stress on a family and we would just like them to relax and enjoy the weekend with other families."

According to her, they relied on private sponsors as well as their own fundraising campaigns.

"The public are welcome to get involved. We are always looking for volunteers we can train as dream makers."

Davel said they were grateful to be nominated as the beneficiary of an event such as the SPAR Family Challenge.

"Our foundation could not survive if it weren't for initiatives like this."

Reach for a Dream realise about 25 kids' dreams in East London and Mthatha each month.

The Family Challenge consists of 5km and 9.8km runs. Enter on or at cycle shops.

Runners at the SPAR Family Challenge on October 8 in East London will be supporting the Reach for a Dream Foundation, who realise the dreams of terminally ill children. Photo: supplied

Issued by: Coetzee Gouws
On behalf of: SPAR Eastern Cape
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