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Local NPO inspires father to compete in IRONMAN

AMID the swarm of athletes that descended on Nelson Mandela Bay for the IRONMAN, which took place on Sunday, was local resident Jacques Barnard, who swam, biked and ran his heart out for The Hope Jones Foundation.

The foundation is a local NPO which seeks to enable and empower children with disabilities to reach their full potential.

It is named after Hope Jones, who was born with congenital myopathy, which severely affected all her voluntary muscles and caused a moderate hearing deficit. Approaching her 10th birthday, she has triumphed in overcoming many obstacles to become an inspiration to her family and community.

“Our biggest aim is to raise awareness for children with disabilities in our city. Awareness leads to education and action, and compassion is only an emotion until it leads to action,” said Gary Jones, Hope’s father and initiator of the foundation.

Describing his experiences as tough yet rewarding, Barnard was motivated to compete in the 10-year anniversary of the IRONMAN in 2014 and has not missed a year since.

This year he finished the race with a time of 13:43:46 and came in 191st out of 256 participants in the male 40-44 age group. He finished 1211 out of 1708 overall.

Barnard had no trouble with the swimming and cycling events but found the run a bit more difficult as a breeze picked up in the evening.

“Overall, it was a great effort by Jacques and we are very proud of him,” said Jones.

Barnard’s son, Luke, a Grade 7 learner at St George’s Preparatory School, was chosen as one of the foundation ambassadors for 2018.

“As ambassadors they get to share an amazing journey of discovery through the Able Bodied Children for Disabled Bodied Children programme (ABC4DBC).

“My connection stems out of his involvement with the foundation and the realisation that we as parents can also contribute in a variety of ways,” Barnard said.

His hope is to raise awareness for the foundation and to raise funds for their many projects and programmes. Combining this with his love for triathlon is a plus.

The Hope Jones Foundation was established in 2011. Officially launched with their ABC4DBC ambassador programme in February of 2013, learners champion the cause of disabled children. Hence, the youth have become the “voice” for disabled children within their schools, communities and countries.

“I have done endurance sports for over 20 years and have received so much out of it. Having the ability to complete endurance races brings with it an amazing sense of gratefulness, as there are so many people out there who are unable to follow suit,” Barnard said.

“There is a Jim Watkins quote that says, ‘A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence’. With a clear vision of the end goal and with enough dedication and persistence, we can achieve greatness no matter what our circumstances are or what challenges we face.”

For more info visit the Hope Jones Foundation Facebook page.

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