During last year's Comrades Marathon, two running buddies from Gauteng raised R14 000 by running for Bibles.
Douw Prinsloo and Cornelia Hutchinson were totally overwhelmed by the love and support they received from their friends, family and even strangers in their efforts to further the Bible cause.
This year Douw will again be running this iconic and gruelling 87 km race whilst also raising funds for Bibles. However, there will be an added challenge.
"I have committed to run Comrades 2017 with a friend to ensure that his Comrades dream becomes a reality. Christo Lourens will be by my side on race day. Our special challenge is that Christo has a hearing impairment and has a cochlear implant. For fear of damaging the sensitive and expensive transmitter unit, Christo chooses to compete in runs without it. When he runs, he is thus literally deaf and totally cut off from the outside world," Douw explains.
Generally, disabled athletes comprise a small minority in endurance sports.
The main challenge for hearing-impaired runners is always safety. Deaf runners have to be aware of their surroundings constantly. This includes not only motor vehicles but pedestrians and other runners as well.
"It is all revolves around their safety. For this very reason I have committed myself to assist Christo and be alongside him – hopefully all the way."
Although hesitant at first, Christo soon realised that he could set an example for other disabled athletes by competing in this demanding event.
"Christo and I decided that he can use this opportunity to inspire and motivate others and to serve as an ambassador for this minority group. It’s a role he shied away from at first, but he understands that having overcome the odds himself, he now has the added responsibility to defy stereotypes that exist about deaf people in endurance sports," Douw adds.
Apart from helping to inspire other disabled athletes to follow in his footsteps, Christo will also be running the race in aid of Bibles.
"I know what Douw and Cornelia did for Bibles last year and as Douw is helping me to realise my dream of running the Comrades, I decided that I also want to help make someone else's by giving them something they desire, a Bible. The Bible Society makes it possible for us to make a difference using our sport. This is my opportunity to make a difference," Christo says.
Douw is equally excited to see what this year's Comrades, which starts on 4 June in Durban, will deliver.
"Last year was a special Comrades Marathon when Cornelia and I ran for Bibles. This year will be double the blessing, running for Bibles again and helping a friend to realise his Comrades dream."
With a mission of providing affordable Bibles for everyone in their own language and in suitable formats so that all may experience the life-giving message of the Word, the Bible Society also caters for deaf readers.
Work is currently underway on the English Bible for the Deaf with an Afrikaans version, Die Bybel vir almal, already available.
These Bibles are written in a simplified language and consist of many explanatory footnotes, as deaf readers, especially those who have been deaf since birth, do not have the extensive vocabulary of someone who can hear.
To read more about Douw and Christo's journey to Comrades 2017, visit Douw's blog at https://myownjourneysa.wordpress.com