After a speaking to his wife Nicky, an occupational therapist at L.U.C.C.A, a support and care centre for special needs children in Randburg, Byron Leggett and 5 friends decided to take on the mammoth Comrades marathon to open up a young girl’s life to new possibilities.
“We started to realize that the Comrades Marathon is genuinely about the human spirit and how people are pushed to do more than they believe is possible. So we started chatting about how we can use our experience to better someone else’s life.” says Byron
Nicky then introduced the runners to Isabella Beck (8) one of her promising students who she has been facilitating for the 2.5 years. Izzy is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone and coordination that affects 1 in 326 children in South Africa. Izzy experiences both physical and visual impairment, symptoms common with her condition, and relies on others to navigate her environment and interact with her peers.
“Due to her inability to communicate verbally she is restricted in answering questions in class, engaging/playing with her friends and cousins. It also prevents her being able to call for when she is hungry, sore or needs to go to the bathroom. Currently Izzy communicates with pictures and hand gestures.” says Byron
Anyone who meets Izzy describes a beaming personality, a smile that can melt hearts and an intelligence not to be underestimated.
“Izzy is just the sweetest girl. Her smile is no doubt the deal breaker, she laughs when people tell jokes and she enjoys listening to Wackhead Simpson, her personal favourite. She is so excited about life; often we complain about such small things and here you have a little girl who has so many restrictions and yet she never gives up” – says Byron
Meeting Izzy at her uncle’s home in Sandringham with her parents Liesle and Carl and older brother Ryder present, the runners were moved by the loving support she receives from her family and the commitment they all share in helping her to reach her full potential.
Hoping to assist Izzy and her family in a meaningful way, the runners set up a campaign on donations based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy to appeal to the public to help purchase Izzy a highly specialized eye tracker. The device operating on specific software will allow Izzy to access her communication system through her eye movements and a selection of images and words that will generate a voice output on her command.
“This device will give Izzy a sense of independence and finally, she will have the ‘voice’ she has always longed for. She will finally be able to indicate when she is tired and needs a nap, she will be able to affectionately argue with her brother, as children do, she will be able to form friendships and tell her parents that she loves them” says Byron
The campaign went live on the 14th of May and thus far raised R18 395.34 with contributions from 25 donors towards their goal of R60,000. Here’s a breakdown of the costs:
- Eye – tracker: R27,000
- Computer and the grid system: R16,000
- Mounting of the device and relevant training material: R15,000
- Other (Training of software): R2,000
Meet the runners:
- Byron Leggett (32)
- Bryan Hellon (32)
- Teran Peyper (32)
- JP van Zittert (28)
- Greg Kilfoil (32)
- Craig Pike (32)
You can contribute to Izzy’s eye tracker by donating here.
Watch this space for regular updates in the General News category.