Greg Bertish – being the optimist that he is – believes that he can conquer Cape Town’s waves in a tiny eight foot-long dingy, aptly named ‘The Optimist’, to inspire children while raising funds for the Children’s Hospital Trust.
A big wave surfer and previous Stand Up Paddle Board and Life Saving Surf Ski, National Champion , Bertish aims to raise R200 000 by embarking on an adventure to cover 200km in his small Optimist boat. Expected to take seven days, the battle against the seas will be symbolic of the battle that many of South Africa’s sickest children take part in every day as they fight to get better.
The Children’s Hospital Trust, which fundraises to advance child healthcare through the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, is optimistic that Bertish’s adventure will be a resounding success. The 44-year-old dad has already proved to the world that he too can battle against the odds. At the age of 31, he underwent open heart surgery to remove bacteria, which had attacked his aortic valve. It took a year of rehabilitation for Bertish to recover. The 200km that he will cover in the Little Optimist represents each day that he spent in hospital.
Funds raised by Bertish will go towards the expansion and the upgrade of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, saving the lives of thousands of critically ill or injured children. The Hospital holds the largest PICU in Africa. Children in need of specialised critical care are referred from all over the continent, yet this vital unit only has 22 of the 26 ICU beds set aside for children across public and private sectors in the Western Cape Province. This facility also provides emergency care for little patients from around South Africa as well as other African countries.
This PICU is in serious need of an upgrade and expansion to increase bed capacity, develop a high care unit for neonatal patients as well as establish isolation cubicles. The high care unit and the isolation cubicles will ensure optimal treatment through better infection control, which is critical in ICU. Increased capacity will also mean a comfortable space for overworked staff and anxious parents.
Bertish says, “I know me as an adult would have helped me as a kid, to believe in myself sooner, dream bigger and reach for more. I believe I can do this for thousands of sick and needy kids. Help the little Optimist and myself to inspire them!”
Bertish is seeking sponsors for his adventure. The Little Optimist is expected to launch its adventure in March/April 2016.
If you wish to contribute to Greg Bertish’s adventure and help raise funds for the Trust http://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/the-little-optimist-the-adventure-for-th