I met Deidre Michaels, or Coach Didi as she is more affectionately known by the Caledon and wider running community, on Facebook in late December 2016. I launched the first pretotyping effort with www.wanna-run.com, the ‘Free Airbnb for runners’ that is launching in December 2017, and Deidre was the very first fan and follower.
Our relationship organically evolved into a friendship and, even though we are yet to meet in person on 2 January 2018, we speak over the phone and via Whatsapp messages. We have developed a bond that I believe has two common factors at the foundation, namely a deep love for running and adverse circumstances during extended periods of our lives.
When I was in primary school I was a 6-time Northern Transvaal Cross Country runner and attended the South African Championships. Sudden, unexpected circumstances forced adversity upon our family and we, triplet early-teenage sisters and an older brother, suddenly found ourselves living with a single mom who was scraping by each month on a secretary’s salary. We started working at around 14 years old to help out (something that I am grateful for to this day as an Entrepreneur). Looking back now, I wouldn’t change one thing.
Coach Didi helps kids like me when circumstances forced me to give up running. What touched my heart is that she does it for free, as the community does not have the means to pay her, and has been doing it for free for many years. Over the years Deidre has delivered a list of successful athletes into the South African running scene, and one of the key benefits to a drug-rife community is that kids do sport instead of making really bad life choices like using drugs and joining gangs.
I am in awe of Deidre’s commitment to the kids. Deidre recently found herself on crutches after a very bad knee injury, but she was next to the field training her runners every day. The day after the unfortunate passing of her wonderful mother, she was next to the field training her runners, and this was one of the toughest days of her life but “I had to be there for the kids” she told me. On a Teacher’s Assistant salary with only occasional work and no steady income, Deidre walks as far as she needs to in order to get to the field to train her runners when the fuel money runs out.
I suggested a crowdfunding campaign to Coach Didi, and made a personal commitment to Coach Didi to help create awareness for her situation and to enable those who can donate a rand or two to help her, so that she may continue to help the kids of Caledon.
Your donation, even $1 (yes, I am serious, even $1 will go a long way at the current ZAR exchange rate), will make a substantial difference to her life and the life of the kids.
Deidre has set up a Paypal account through which contributions can be made directly to her by clicking HERE
Content by: Anna Edwards, CEO & Founder, GetToTheStart