• Rising Sun EC

Comrades for hearing impaired kids

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

Robert Petschel hopes this initiative will help raise awareness on the challenges faced by hearing impaired children d their families.

Robert Petschel at the Centre which specialises in teaching children how to speak or communicate with their peers and family.

On Sunday, June 9, East London’s Robert Petschel will embark on his first ever Comrades Marathon with a huge responsibility on his shoulders. But he is not phased.

In fact, Petschel is ready to run the 89km stretch as he is driven by a mission to raise funds for the hearing impaired children of the Carel du Toit Centre, a pre-school in East London. The centre specialises in teaching children how to speak or communicate with their peers and family. However, they have limited access to necessary resources for each child.

“I am going to use Facebook and the Comrades’ Do it 4 Charity website as platforms to raise funds. The funds will contribute to the acquisition and maintenance of hearing aid equipment, especially cochlear implants,” explained Petschel.

Petschel knows first hand the challenges faced by children with a hearing impairment. He is a father to a hearing impaired son, Martin, who has been privileged enough to have the necessary assistance to attend a local mainstream school. “The hearing aids have opened a new world for him, and that is what I want for the children of the centre. They have to catch up on developmental milestones that they have missed, like pronouncing sounds they have never heard before,” he said.

He is hoping this initiative will also help raise awareness on the frustrations and challenges faced by hearing impaired and their families.

Running the Comrades’ Marathon is Petschel’s lifetime goal and he intends to finish it in under seven hours. After a number of setbacks with injuries, since 2017, followed by a strict training programme, he has finally reached his fitness peak.

“It must be awesome to finish a race you have worked hard for, the same way it must be awesome for a child to hear for the first time, something that we take for granted,” said Petschel.

He has been training for seven weeks and has ran 2 000km so far. “I get up as early as 3am, run up to 45km a day, including hills and at times twice a day,” he details.


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