Runner saves hospice

Stefan van Neel (left) with Iris House founder and CEO, Sue van der Linde.
Stefan van Neel (left) with Iris House founder and CEO, Sue van der Linde.

Ten peaks, 10 hours, R110 000 and saving a charity organisation during their 10th anniversary year.

Former goalkeeper Stefan van Neel can easily claim 10 as his lucky number after completing a 10-peak trail run in 10 hours to raise R110 003,61 for Iris House Children’s Hospice.

Van Neel (29), who lives in Glenhaven, handed the cheque over to Iris House founder and CEO Sue van der Linde last week.

He finished the race at the end of October in a time of 09:37 and says he feels he’s recovered well over the past few weeks.

Van der Linde says they are thrilled Stefan chose to run for them.

The hospice has been through a tough few months as they rely on fundraisers to provide care.

Most of these were cancelled due to Covid and the charity was facing closure.

“During 2020 we had to dig deep into our reserves, unfortunately in 2021 these were completely spent, and we had to ensure we could raise money to keep our doors open,” Van der Linde says.

“Stefan’s timing was incredible, he has literally ‘saved the day’. We are so very grateful for all his hard work and the amazing energy that he put into the #10peaks run.”

Van Neel’s run started at Kalk Bay and ended at Blinkwater Beacon, whereafter he ran to Leeuwenhof where he was welcomed by Premier Alan Winde and his wife, Tracy.

Tracy has a special bond with the hospice, having been a former volunteer and board advisor.

It was a tough race for Van Neel – the furthest he’s ever run and in very muddy conditions, but everything was worth it when he finished.

A group of Harley Davidson enthusiasts escorted him in a guard of honour and his friends and family were waiting at the finishing line.

“It was an amazing feeling,” he says. 

“I became emotional. All the cramps, the pain disappeared.”

He is quite a new trail running convert, having only taken up the sport in July last year.

“It’s a passion that grew very quickly.”

So quickly, in fact, he raised R25 000 for the Cansa Tygerberg Care Home earlier this year.

He was looking for a new challenge when he heard about Iris House’s plight and decided to do something for them. To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the organisation, he planned his 47 km route across 10 peaks on Table Mountain.

Scores of people then heard of his goal and donated money on GivenGain and via direct deposit.

Van Neel believes his run was just the spark that encourages others to come together and donate money. 

“We’re much stronger together and together we can make a difference.”

When he’s not saving organisations, Van Neel works as a content marketer for a sports company and goalkeeper coach for the Rising Stars football club in Goodwood.

He says he has another project in the pipeline but is still mum about what exactly it entails.

Van der Linde says the money raised has been added to their #Saveirishousechildrenshospice appeal and urges anyone interested to donate money and help them stay afloat.

  • The hospice will be hosting a festive market at their grounds in Stikland, Bellville from 10:00 on 4 December and invites anyone interested to join them on the day.

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