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Spot the Optimist

Optimist Greg Bertish to embark on 24hour endurance fundraiser on 4 & 5 March at the V&A for the Children’s Hospital Trust 

Greg Bertish – being the optimist that he is – believes that he can conquer all odds in a tiny 8 foot by 3.5 foot dinghy, aptly named ‘The Optimist’, to inspire and promote positive belief in children while raising funds for the Children’s Hospital Trust. The Optimist (Opi) is a single-handed sailing dinghy intended for use by children up to the age of 15.

The big wave surfer and previous Stand Up Paddle Board and Life Saving Surf Ski, National Champion. (as a Heart surgery survivor) will be staging a –plucky / adventurous stunt for 24 hours at the V&A Waterfront on 4 and 5 March as he braves the giant waves and ocean perils sailing his little Opi in a paddling pool at a secret location. Prizes will be on offer for those who manage to spot the Little Optimist boat during the two days and take the best and most innovative selfie with him, launching at 15h00 on Friday, 4 March.  

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.

Funds raised by Bertish will contribute to the expansion and the upgrade of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, saving the lives of thousands of critically ill or injured children. The Hospital houses the largest PICU in Africa.

Children in need of specialised and emergency critical care are referred from all over the continent, yet this vital unit only has 22 of approximately 35 ICU beds set aside for children in the Western Cape Province.

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.

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!”

His stunt at the V&A Waterfront precedes a more intrepid adventure that he will embark on in the next month, where the Little Optimist will sail the actual high seas covering 200km from Cape Hangklip to Saldanha Bay around Cape Point– where no optimist has gone before.

This brave sailor, who will be sleeping in the boat overnight, will be utilising SnapScan as well as an SMS donation line at the Waterfront to raise money for all of the little patients who take on big battles at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital every day. When certain donation targets are met, Bertish will be provided with important items that he needs including sunblock, a pillow, food, water, a blanket, a jacket and an umbrella. The Children’s Hospital Trust brand ambassadors will be part of his support crew and on standby to provide further information.

“We are so grateful that the Little Optimist will be taking to the high seas to raise money and awareness for the thousands of little patients that are treated at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital from around Africa. The Hospital manages 260 000 patient visits a year, a third of whom are under the age of one-years-old. These injured and ill children need a world class Paediatric Intensive Care Unit to offer them life-saving support and it’s people like Greg who contribute to making this dream a reality. These children face a battle every day on their road to recovery, so it’s a wonderful metaphor for the challenge that they face. We wish the Little Optimist the best of luck on his adventure,” says Louise Driver, CEO for the Children’s Hospital Trust.

Every day in hospital is a day less of childhood. Come to the V&A on 4 and 5 March to spot the Little Optimist and help give childhood back.


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