Cyclists clock miles to put smiles on kids’ dials
Group of big-hearted riders hit the road to raise R120,000 to correct cleft lips and palates
Having cycled more than 1,000km, a group of cyclists are halfway to making 22 children smile.
On Sunday, 13 Miles for Smiles cyclists, aged between 30 and 60, completed their “strenuous, spirit- and mind-testing” cycle tour from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town in aid of Operation Smile South Africa.
They raised R60,000 for reconstructive surgery for children born with a cleft lip or cleft palate.
“A single procedure costs a mere R5,600. Last year, we managed to raise a total of R100,000, which covers almost 18 procedures towards a new smile. This year we hope to raise enough funds to create at least 22 new smiles, which rounds up to a little over R120,000,” Miles for Smiles spokesperson Shannon Smit explained.
The cyclists hope to meet their target through their donation website before the April 6 cut-off.
The Miles for Smiles tour kicked off on February 24 with the Herald Cycle Tour.
After covering 104km in Port Elizabeth, the cyclists stopped over in various towns, until they eventually make their way to Cape Town.
By day 10 they had covered about 1,058km, before ending off the cycle tour with a further 109km.
“As the majority of the cycling group are mountain bikers, we are a pretty tough bunch. The cause and awareness that we are driving by turning pedals kilometre by kilometre, and the fact that it allows children and adults alike to have a life-changing procedure, makes any and all forms of pain worth it and is enough to make everyone persevere,” Smit said.
Rider Martin Glaum said the ride was awesome.
“The total mixed emotions, pain, suffering, happy, joyous, good company and good miles were all for a good cause.”
The ride had been on Ina van Wyk’s bucket list while Monica Woods was humbled to have gone on the tour.
“Ultimately the kids are going to benefit, but I also made new friendships,” said Woods.
One of the reasons for the awareness ride was that every three minutes a child is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate.
“Making a difference, no matter how small, is the only reward for our efforts which again will change the lives of many children with cleft lips and palate conditions, and those of their families, after the tour,” said rider Ally Johnson.
Operation Smile is an international medical charity with a global network of thousands of medical volunteers from more than 80 countries dedicated to improving the health and lives of children from more than 60 countries.
It has provided more than 220,000 free surgical procedures for children and young adults born with a cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.