Meet the runner who plans to do Comrades barefoot for the homeless
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DURBAN - With the landscape of the Comrades Marathon having changed due to Covid-19, a Pietermaritzburg man is using the opportunity to bring hope to the homeless in that city in a bid to help them change their lives.
Graham Wells, 44, will be running the 90km virtual race on Sunday barefoot from Mooi River to the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.
Wells, from Pelham, Pietermaritzburg, said he was dedicating his 90km virtual challenge to the plight of the growing homeless population in his area.
“Since Comrades is cancelled, I’m going to be running with my watch recording the distance, then when I get to the Pietermaritzburg City Hall I’ll upload the information to the Comrades website,” Wells said.
He hoped to raise as much money as possible to fund the “much needed” homeless shelter.
“I have a dream to see a safe, friendly, shelter where people of any race or background can be welcomed and empowered to make something better of themselves,” he said.
Wells launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy, “Run for a roof”, to raise R250 000 towards the estimated R1 million needed.
“Funds raised will not only cover the cost to build the housing structure, but also provide the homeless with the appropriate rehabilitation services to rebuild their own lives.”
Wells said helping the poor has always been close to his heart, and he previously worked in social housing in the UK.
“While out training on freezing cold mornings, I’m always struck by the number of homeless in our city. As we complain about the weather getting colder, imagine what it must be like living on the street, in a park or a field. These are normal people, like you and me, and for whatever reason, have found themselves in a difficult situation and homeless.”
Wells has partnered with One Life Foundation. Since the launch of his campaign, he has raised over R15 000 with contributions from 13 donors.
“By coming together to fund this project, we have an opportunity to change the face of homelessness in our city and restore dignity to those society has left behind. Everyone deserves kindness and a second chance.”