On Sunday November 22, I was at Itheko club house for an SGM. Because there wasn’t a quorum, we started chatting. Many of us haven’t seen each other for months. For me, Fatima Van Der Rheede was one of them. And she had something to whisper to me.
Fatima: “Listen, next Saturday is Mr. Parker’s 70th Birthday, and we’re planning a surprise birthday run for him next Sunday. Will you join us?”
Me: “Of course!! In fact I will wear our club color.”
Fatima: “That’s a great idea, I’ll suggest to everyone”.
Both due to the Pandemic and the fact that it had to be a surprise, less than 30 participants were expected.
A birthday run was his daughter Shara’s idea. It would mean a lot to Mr. Parker. He started running because he needed to be fit enough to donate his kidney to his beloved doughtier Amina, Shara’s younger sister. That inspirational story earned him the 2017 “President’s Award” of our club.
It’s been more than 3 years since the successful operation and both he and his doughtier went for a check-up recently to come back with all good news!! Mr. Parker is a regular athlete now. The race announcers know him and he is famous for being the the man who enjoys his run all the way and finishes sprinting at the finish line. His two daughters too are our members.
On the beautiful early morning of Sunday November 29, we arrived at the meeting place: Bel Ombre. It was so great to see that mini-race vibe, with runners in club colours ready to hit the road. Mr. Parker’s arrived with Shara. Guess what, shara gave us “race bibs”. Now it looks a properly organized race.
There were the seconding cars with water, and an official race photographer. The goal is to cover an 8k route because he had 100k set for the month and he already ran 92. It was perfectly chosen panoramic route, and it is when we have no pressure that even Southern Cross hill can be enjoyed.
But the best is yet to come – the finish line. As we entered the beautiful residential premises that hosted our breakfast, we could see a properly set-up “Finish” banner. As usual, Mr. Parker sprinted. It was so much fun.
Between breakfast, the short and sweet speeches, coffee and chats, there was one thing that was contagious – happiness. It was such a joyful moment to see the birthday boy and his family happy.
This simple event is one of the most symbolic moments for me as a member of the club because it expresses who we are. The main objective of the club is promoting a healthier lifestyle in our communities. For a number of years, we have been having consistently over 800 active members. We have diverse athletic capabilities in the membership base, but we all share one thing in common – that we are here to enjoy athletics. And, we do it in fun and memorable ways. “Itheko” is a Xhosa word for “the big occasion”, and this is one of them.
Happy birthday once again Mr. Parker. As an ordinary member, I am quite confident that I can speak on behalf of our fellow members that Amina’s and yours epic story is our pride and a great inspiration for so many out there. Thank you for blessing us with your contagious joys!!