Runners do it for cleft-lip kids

Last Friday long distance runners David Grier and Andrew Stuart of the Cipla Foundation’s Miles for Smiles initiative brought their most recent fund-raising expedition to a close, a 1000 km run from Alexander Bay in Namibia to Signal Hill in Cape Town.

Andrew Stuart and David Grier at Signal Hill.

Mr Grier and Mr Stuart have a target of R250 000 that can assist 45 children for cleft-palate surgery.

“We have been raising funds for Operation Smile that facilitates the corrective surgery for children born with clefts, so over the last 14 years we put 3 000 kids through surgery,” said the 61-year-old Mr Grier, who lives in Century City.

“It was a tough challenge as I cracked a bone in my foot. I tripped in a aardvark hole so my foot was quite swollen, so I had to switch to a normal running shoe for the duration of this run,” he said of running in a Veldskoen for the better part of this challenge.

“We have partnerships with various companies and they assist us with various aspects of our challenges, Veldskoen donates R300 to Operation Smile for every pair sold,” he said of the association with Cipla and Veldskoen.

“The tougher it gets the more you enjoy it,” said Mr Stuart, 54, of the challenge they completed. “One day you do 50 kilometres and you think you can’t do it again, but after a good sleep, you can and we’ve done it. It’s all for Operation Smile so the motivation is always there.”

Operation Smile fundraiser Yasmina Follentine met the two at Signal Hill to thank them for their efforts.

“David has been with us since 2006 and they have been absolutely amazing with the fund raising,” said Ms Follentine who collected a cheque for R50 000.

“Because of the lockdown, we have about 35 children on the waiting list and to us it’s a lot. I believe there are more and our team is in the Eastern Cape right now doing patient awareness. There is a stigma about cleft-lip kids and we spread the word about what it is and what we can do for them.”

David Grier shows off the pair shoes he ran in for over 600km.