The RECM Knysna 200 mountain bike stage race is helping to give underprivileged children a chance at a brighter future by supporting local educational and sporting initiatives.
The three-day event, which took place in and around the Garden Route town earlier this month, saw more than 350 riders turn out to do their bit for the greater good.
According to race organiser Louise Wilson of Garden Route Events, the event raised almost R60 000 for the Knysna Sport School and also assisted the Knysna Education Trust as riders sponsored seven pre-schoolers’ education for a year under its “adopt a child” programme.
“We believe absolutely that the success of this event depends primarily on two things,” said Wilson.
“Firstly, the beauty and fluidity of the route itself and, secondly, the support we receive on the day.”
She said the event’s relationship with the two non-profit organisations was a mutually beneficial and “beautifully symbiotic” one.
“We support and create awareness for them and they in turn provide the help we need behind the scenes. It’s invaluable in a small holiday town like Knysna, where there simply isn’t the manpower to support an event of this magnitude.”
Wilson said KSS staff, coaches and parents were actively involved with waterpoints, route marking, marshalling and shuttle services, while the KET played a pivotal role in the race village at Thesen Harbour Town and at waterpoints.
She said the sport school was a longstanding race beneficiary that did exemplary work in helping children to make positive life choices through sports development.
The school received a R20 000 unit trust investment from the event’s title sponsor as part of a raffle competition for riders, plus an additional R26 200 in proceeds from all ticket sales. RECM kit worth R9 500 and a R2 500 voucher from Cape Storm clothing completed the donation.
The strength of KSS’s programmes was proved when alumnus and former cycling coach Vernon Moos claimed the overall runner-up spot in the race’s solo category.
The determined youngster rode the final 10km of the 200km event with a tyreless front wheel after crashing badly on a technical section.
Speaking at the event, KSS sports coordinator Ian Coetzee described Moos as “a shining light” and an example of what could be achieved.
Knysna Education Trust director Nicky Goodall said initiatives such as the mountain bike race provided the ideal opportunity to showcase the essential work being done by the trust in the community.
Goodall said the KET focused on strengthening the quality of teaching and learning in 31 disadvantaged preschools by implementing essential services and on-site mentoring.
“The awareness created by the organisers, as well as the opportunity to present at the prize giving and race briefing evenings, has been very beneficial.
“With each time that one is able to address a large group of people, the chances of finding sponsors is increased and this year we were very fortunate to have so many generous people on this race.”