Cape Town - A year after retired professional cyclists René Hasselbacher and Robbie Hunter donated a cochlear implant to give a young boy the gift of hearing, Hasselbacher met the child whose life they changed.
Last year, after their plans to participate in the Cape Epic Tour were cancelled, Haselbacher, a retired professional cyclist from Austria, and Robbie Hunter, a retired cyclist from South Africa, partnered up with Cape Hearing Implants, a non-profit company (NPC) that works to help underprivileged deaf people in need of cochlear implants.
Haselbacher and Hunter donated their two bicycles, worth R320 000, towards the cochlear implant for a candidate in South Africa. The money was set aside to be used to cover rehabilitation for the recipient and any financial maintenance from the surgery.
On Wednesday, Hasselbacher and his Cape Epic partner for this year, Johnny Hoogerland, visited 8-year-old Bokamoso Mahlatsane, a Grade 2 learner at Carel du Toit School. Mahlatsane was the recipient of the cochlear implant donation.
Hasselbacher said: “It’s amazing to see how something we did had such a wonderful impact on a little boy’s life. I’m very happy to see Kamo now, one and a half years later, and he can talk to us. Now he's just like a normal little boy, and that makes me happy.
“I’d consider another project like this one because while it’s fun for us to cycle and participate in events like the Cape Epic it’s more rewarding to be involved in projects like these.”
Hasselbacher also shared how he was inspired to initiate a project that would see him donating a cochlear implant to a child in need by his grandmother back in Austria, who was deaf.
“It makes me feel so happy that I can hear, I used to sit near the TV screen to try and hear, but that would always hurt my eardrums. Now that I have the cochlear implant I can hear, and everything makes me happy, especially my mom,” said Kamo.