On Valentine's Day, 2013, a special group of paddlers will compete in The Unlimited Dusi canoe marathon, setting off in the charity batch to raise funds for three specific charities.
Consisting of 60 boats, paddlers bid to secure a spot in the charity batch as it ensures they will get an early start on each day of the three-day event. This is a huge competitive advantage as it gives these paddlers an opportunity to get out on the water earlier, thus beating the midday heat and humidity whilst also avoiding congestion.
The Unlimited Dusi charity batch is driven by an online bidding system and the funds raised through this platform go to the race charities: The Unlimited Child, the SPCA and DUCT (Dusi Umgeni Conservancy Trust). Thanks to the remarkable fundraising by the charity batch paddlers in 2012, R380 000 was raised for the charities. Organisers are hoping to top this in 2013.
One of the race charities, The Unlimited Child, addresses the urgent need for early childhood development by supplying educational toys and caregiver training to crèches in underprivileged areas. This ensures that children between the ages of 0 and 6 get the stimulation they need to achieve their full potential in life. The Unlimited Child used the money raised by the charity batch in 2012 to provide caregiver training and educational toys for an additional nine crèches, which jointly look after more than 400 children. The organisation now has 101 crèches in the Valley of 1000 Hills that jointly care for 4032 children.
According to Nigel Barnes, who together with paddling partner Kevin Waterston placed the highest charity batch bid ever of R41 550, it was a great experience. "It was a definite advantage to get away in an early batch and it was great motivation to be part of the camaraderie of the rest of the batch. The atmosphere was fantastic and it was for a great cause as well."
Based on feedback from paddlers last year, the charity batch bidding platform has had a complete reboot and there are some great new features. The latest technology has been incorporated to enable live updates of the bids and paddlers will be notified by email when a higher bid is placed.
Boats in the charity batch will also have the opportunity to rub shoulders with The Unlimited Dusi celebrities, Sias du Plessis of 5FM, Liezel van der Westhuisen of kfm, Metro FM presenter and Idols judge Unathi Msengana and East Coast Radio presenter Damon Beard.