Operation Smile South Africa - Riders to cycle 1000 km for charity
Photo Cred: Operation Smile South Africa

The annual Miles for Smiles cycle tour kicked off in Port Elizabeth!

 

Port Elizabeth, South Africa (3 March 2020) – Spanning 1,000km, the third annual Miles for Smiles (MFS) tour kicked off on Friday, 28 February and saw eleven cyclists embark on a strenuous ten-day tour from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town to raise money for Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA).

OSSA is a global non-profit medical service organisation that provides free cleft lip and cleft palate reconstructive surgery to vulnerable children and adults.

Operation Smile South Africa - Riders to cycle 1000 km for charity
Photo Cred: Operation Smile South Africa

Since its inception in 2018, the MFS tour has raised almost R200,000 for OSSA, putting smiles on the faces of those who need it most.

“The impact these surgeries make on children’s lives is immense. Parents literally plead with us to help fix their children, so we are truly grateful to the cyclists for undertaking such a demanding journey in an effort to change lives,” says Ronel Visagie, Operation Smile South Africa.

Cleft lift and cleft palate are conditions where a gap in the mouth doesn’t close during the early stages of pregnancy and is the third most common birth defect worldwide. Every three minutes a child is born with cleft.

Operation Smile South Africa - Riders to cycle 1000 km for charity
Photo Cred: Operation Smile South Africa

Those with the condition suffer difficulty with feeding, which can lead to malnutrition or even starvation. Recurring ear infections can also occur, resulting in hearing loss. Other issues include dental development, language impairment, bullying and social isolation.

The MFS riders will cycle up to 100km and more per day for 10 ten days in a row, joining the Cape Town Cycle Tour for their last 106km on 09 March. Tour organiser, Shannon Smit, says she is hoping to raise more money this year so that OSSA can perform more surgeries.

“On our first tour in 2018, we raised R 70,000 which we almost doubled in 2019. This year our goal is to reach R140,000.”

The cost of one surgery is R5,500 and can take as little as 45 minutes to perform a corrective procedure.

The 2020 MFS tour will start at Grassroot Farmfall and Restaurant in Port Elizabeth and includes riders of varying ages and athletic ability.

“The countdown has started, and my mind is locking into a mode of euphoria. I love the idea of challenging our bodies on a bicycle for over 1,000km for a good cause,” says MFS cyclist, Lynda Brotherton.

Follow the cycle on Facebook @milesforsmilespetoct or Instagram @MilesForSmiles

To make a donation to Operation Smile South Africa or sign up as a volunteer, please visit their website.

Operation Smile South Africa - Riders to cycle 1000 km for charity
Photo Cred: Operation Smile South Africa

Sources: Operation Smile South Africa
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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