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Covid-19: Cyclists expected to race Cape Epic donate bikes to help deaf community

René Haselbacher and Robbie Hunter. Picture: Supplied

René Haselbacher and Robbie Hunter. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 20, 2020


Cape Town - Two competitive cyclists have decided to donate their Swiss-made bicycles to help the deaf community.

René Haselbacher, a retired professional cyclist from Austria, and Robbie Hunter, a retired cyclist from South Africa, were meant to participate in the Cape Epic Tour which was cancelled because of Covid-19.

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The cyclists had planned to participate in the eight-day and seven-stage event. 

The cyclists are in partnership with Cape Hearing Implant (CHI), a non-profit organisation that works to help underprivileged deaf people in need of cochlear implants. Haselbacher and Hunter are contributing towards the cochlear implant for a candidate in South Africa.

The bicycles together are worth R320 000. The money will be used to cover rehabilitation for the recipient, and any financial maintenance from the surgery.

Dr Louis Hofmeyr will perform the surgery free of charge.

“It’s such a great opportunity for the recipient to receive this gift of hearing and possibly speech and language. In the case that the recipient is a child, it is nothing short of amazing,” he said.

Haselbacher said he was motivated by a deaf member of his family.

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“I have worked with Med-El (an Austrian hearing implant manufacturer) for some time, and I now have understanding of cochlear implants and how they can help people who are deaf. I want to share that information and spread hope,” he said.

Lisa-Marie Fourie, an advocate for hearing loss who has had an implant, said hearing was a gift for someone who previously could not hear.

“It just happened that I could be part of this initiative. I like sport and also in my own capacity as a cochlear implant patient I decided to use my own story and platform to create awareness for this cause. It is a good angle for people and the cycling community to also see that cochlear implant users are not limited in this regard,” she said.

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Hunter said being part of the initiative had taught him to appreciate being able to hear.

“Being able to help change a person’s life in such a drastic way has left a life lasting impression on me,” he said.

René Haselbacher and Robbie Hunter who are donating their special Swiss bicycles.


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