SPAR River Mile goes extra mile for good

17 June 2015

The SPAR River Mile went the extra mile to clean up the environment and help local charities at Cannonville near Port Elizabeth on the 15th February 2015.

The 91st edition of South Africa's oldest open-water swim took place on the Sundays River instead of its traditional home at Redhouse because of raw sewage pollution in the Swartkops River. Title sponsor SPAR Eastern Cape contributed R80 000 annually for the past three years to help address the challenges and assist in the clean-up of the river. Despite the enforced relocation of the event, SPAR Eastern Cape marketing manager Abri Swart confirmed that the retailer would continue to be part of the solution going forward.
“Our commitment will be ongoing until we can return the Swartkops to its former glory.” Swart said SPAR was working in conjunction with the Zwartkops Conservancy to identify the areas of greatest need and where the financial assistance could best be utilised.
“Clean water is one of the most basic needs and a major contributor to improved quality of life for the communities along the river. “SPAR as a market leader in our sector needs to show leadership, meet the great need in our province and give back to the communities we serve.”
As far as the Sundays River was concerned, there were no health concerns for the more than 1 600 swimmers, he said. “We'll have a team of cleaners working before, during and after the event to keep the venue clean and ensure that any pollution is kept to an absolute minimum.”
On the charity side of things, event organiser Michael Zoetmulder said funds from swimmers' entry fees went towards cleft pallet surgery for children with facial deformities.
“We also had a 'swim a mile for a smile' campaign, where individual swimmers were sponsored to raise additional funds for the Smile Foundation and Cleft Friends.”