Turning trauma into compassion

Turning the trauma of losing a child into an initiative to improve the lives of others, Just Breathe founder and former East Londoner Daniel Weber has rounded up 15 close friends and family members who will take on the 2019 Wild Coast Challenge in aid of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town.
The Just Breathe initiative was founded after Weber’s son, Connor, drowned in a bucket at their home in Cape Town in December 2017.
The initiative strives to raise funds in an effort to improve the lives of patients, their families and staff members at Red Cross, where Connor was treated before he died.
“The time we spent at the hospital really opened our eyes. The majority of what they have is funded by private donors, and often families don’t have the funds to stay in Cape Town and be with their children during treatments. The staff are also incredibly compassionate and caring for each and every child,” said Weber.
“I felt compelled to do something after Connor died. I realised that there was a lot we could do to help and I wanted to leave a legacy for my son. Just Breathe is all because of him.”
Initially supporting the ICU ward at the hospital, where Connor was treated, Just Breathe has now moved on to assist wherever needed, including fundraising for the implementation of staff training and counselling programmes.
While the hospital is based in Cape Town, it provides a vital service to the entire country, and it was the first hospital in sub-Saharan Africa to be dedicated to child healthcare.
“It is the only children’s hospital in South Africa, and a large portion of the children that are treated there are from the Eastern Cape,” said Weber.
The 2019 Wild Coast Challenge will see Weber, his brother Pierre, cousins and close friends tackle the three-day trail run from Cwebe to Chintsa, spanning 120km along the coast.
“I’m definitely not a runner, and I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone, so when I came across the Wild Coast Challenge it was the perfect fit.
“We grew up in the [former] Transkei and the support we’ve received from family, friends and strangers around East London has been truly fantastic,” said Weber.
Hoping to raise R200,000 for the initiative, the group of 15 will start their run on Thursday.
Pierre said various sponsors had pledged a certain amount per kilometre for all 15 runners, and that the Wild Coast Challenge organisers had also offered to donate an amount of the funds raised towards the Just Breathe initiative.
“We might even be able to raise more than our estimate for the hospital,” said Pierre.
“Losing a child is the ultimate loss, but my brother and his wife have turned a very difficult experience into something so positive.
“They’ve given Connor’s life an amazing purpose, and all we hope for is that Just Breathe can help to save someone else’s life.”
To find out more about Just Breathe visit its Facebook page or contact Weber on 083-983-7302...

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