Tim Stones

Grocott's Mail - - SPORT -

and-a-half-year-old RW Ven­ter to re­ceive the gift of hear­ing by ac­quir­ing a cochlear im­plant.

RW, who lives in Pre­to­ria, is pro­foundly deaf and I came across him through my par­tic­i­pa­tion in the 2016 Mr Deaf South Africa pageant in that city last Oc­to­ber.

At their gala evening at the At­ter­bury Theatre, I was cho­sen as first run­ner-up and also re­ceived the Char­ity Award for hav­ing raised the most funds for the Deci­bel Cochlear Cam­paign, an ini­tia­tive of the Miss, Mrs and Mr Deaf South Africa (MDSA) or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Fol­low­ing the pageant, I wanted to use the plat­form my par­tic­i­pa­tion had af­forded me to try and do some­thing mean­ing­ful for the broader deaf com­mu­nity. Be­ing deaf from birth my­self, and a run­ner, I de­cided to com­bine a few races I’d planned with rais­ing aware­ness about the im­pact of hear­ing loss, as well as funds to sup­port deaf peo­ple need­ing cochlear im­plants.

I asked the man­age­ment of MDSA if they had a child in mind for this ini­tia­tive and that was how I met RW Ven­ter.

I’ve been mov­ing for 46 hours now – but there’s still two hours to go.

Phys­i­cally, I am bro­ken, nurs­ing sev­eral huge blis­ters on both feet. The lack of sleep has caught up with me, and I am ex­hausted.

As I trudge up a short hill, start­ing to think that maybe I’ll call it a day, I see a group of peo­ple whose faces I recog­nise. It’s some of the man­age­ment of MDSA who have come out to sup­port me.

And then I see him, lit­tle RW, who is run­ning to­wards me, his arms open wide!

I slow down and crouch as he runs into my arms.

I see his par­ents, and we greet each other. And then they all start cheer­ing, and urge me to con­tinue.

As I go round the cor­ner, none see the tears stream­ing down my face. All the pain, all the tired­ness, it’s all been worth it. Look­ing into the eyes of this beau­ti­ful child, I am re­minded of my own two ex­traor­di­nary sons, Brendan and Rory, and I think of their strength and courage, and I know I must keep mov­ing. I must see this race through to its fin­ish.

Lit­tle RW, his par­ents, my men­tor from MDSA and two of the se­nior man­age­ment join me in walk­ing the last few laps.

As we walk, RW at times runs ahead, or sits proudly on the shoul­ders of his dad. He can’t hear a word I say, but we un­der­stand each other in our smiles, and he ges­tures to me with the in­ter­na­tional sign for “I love you!”

I can’t re­ally de­scribe what I felt as I crossed the fin­ish line af­ter my fi­nal lap. It was by far the tough­est phys­i­cal test of my life, but also the race that has meant the most to me, on so many lev­els.

I com­pleted 188.2km in 48 hours, and won the race. In the process I be­came the first ath­lete from Bor­der to of­fi­cially com­plete a 48-hour race, set­ting the Bor­der record at 188.2km.

I also be­came the first deaf per­son in the world to of­fi­cially com­plete such a race. I am ranked first in my age group in Africa for 2016 for the 48hour event, and broke the age group course record at Mod­der­fontein by 84km.

This new year brings fresh ad­ven­tures. I will be run­ning the Oceans Ul­tra in April, as well as mak­ing a re­turn to Com­rades. I am hop­ing to com­pete at the Cen­tury Clas­sic in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg in Septem­ber, where I’ll aim to im­prove on my 48-hour distance.

I am ded­i­cat­ing all of these races to sup­port RW, and help him get a bit closer to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the gift of sound.

If you would like to sup­port me in go­ing the distance for RW, please con­tact me at tim­stones1@ hot­mail. com, or send me a What­sApp on 073 162 3852.The ac­count de­tails are: Ac­count Name: My Foun­da­tion Trust, Bank: Stan­dard Bank, Branch Code: 033012, Ac­count Num­ber: 272390674, Ref­er­ence: Cochlear - RW Ven­ter.

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