SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge brings back the sunshine

28 September 2020

The communities in Thabazimbi and Modimole showed their support with immense excitement. Photo: Reg Caldecott

Women across the country took part in the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge this past weekend bringing some much needed sunshine back into our lives – proving that no matter what was cancelled this year, the resilience, optimism and unity of our nation cannot be cancelled! 

Social media posts of women and their families dressed up in official event t-shirts and bright yellow buffs dominated our timelines this weekend as 30 000 women shared their SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge experience online. The hashtags #BeSunshine and #SPARVirtualChallenge trended throughout the weekend as support for this innovative virtual event poured in. 
The SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge which was launched in July sold out its 30 000 tickets ahead of the event which took place on 26th September 2020. As a virtual event, there were no geographic boundaries to the race. Women across the country and in some parts of the world in any location could choose their own route and their own distance to walk or run.
“Thank you to all 30 000 racers who participated in the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge! Our first-ever virtual challenge was a huge success and we could not have done it without you or our generous sponsors. For every entry that was received, we will be able to send 30 000 food parcels to the survivors of gender-based violence and their families. SPAR is proud to have created a platform that gave us all an opportunity to show up for the extraordinary women of South Africa and celebrate their relentless sunshine,” said Jerome Jacobs, Divisional Marketing Director, SPAR South Rand.
A live broadcast from a studio in Johannesburg, hosted by Virtual Challenge Ambassadors Warrior Ric, Lucille Slade and Tuané Block, tied the event together in a social media live stream, crossing live to their fellow Ambassadors in various locations across Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Event Ambassadors Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp and Bling it on Bibi, and veteran Olympian runner, Rene Kalmer, were just some of the guests who joined them in studio.
The live stream brought the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge community together, allowing everyone taking part to see what their fellow participants were doing in their regions.
In Soweto, Warrior Ric rallied the women of Soweto to remember their worth while at the SPAR Distribution Centre in Thembisa, SPAR employees showed their support to the challenge by taking up the President’s message and doing the Jerusalema dance. Donald Mathipa from the SPAR Thembisa Mile, also showed up to show his support and thanked SPAR for backing his race over the years. At Hannah Charity Wolmer, one of the Virtual Challenge beneficiaries, the residents turned out to show their support to victims of Gender-Based Violence.
Further North, at the Maslow Hotel in Pretoria, the Jaguars Netball Team showed up to throw their weight behind this worthy cause and they were joined by 2016 Comrades Winner, Charné Bosman, and longtime SPAR Women’s Challenge ambassador and Pretoria favourite Lindie Strydom. The Oppie Bol Foundation joined them as well to prove to the nation that disabilities should not be a reason to cancel happiness or sunshine!

In Limpopo, the communities in Thabazimbi and Modimole showed their support with immense excitement around SPAR’s END Gender-Based Violence campaign. Good Morning Angels’ Dianne Broodryk and the SPAR team stopped in at Abraham Kriel Kinderhuis in Modimole to visit Sanet Basson who benefited from donations made on behalf of the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge.
In Mpumalanga, Lentsa Faith Matau, Captain of the Mpumalanga Sunbirds Netball team, welcomed the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge in Mpumalanga at sunrise doing her own solo challenge on a granite hill overlooking Mbombela. She then joined her teammates in the Lowveld Botanical Gardens where the Sunbirds did their challenge ending off with the Jerusalema dance. Other groups of Mpumalanga participants were seen roaming the plains of Kaapschehoop amongst the wild horses, walking in the rain forests at the base of Lone Creek Falls and along the escarpment at Blyde River Canyon.
“To our phenomenal Brand Ambassadors and to everybody who took part and tagged us on social media using the hashtag #BeSunshine, thank you. We loved seeing all your photos and videos! Not only did we want our participants to enjoy themselves and know that community and sunshine are not cancelled, but we also wanted to send out a very important message; Gender Based Violence in South Africa needs to END and we can achieve this when we all stand together,” commented Charlene Goschen, Divisional Marketing Director, SPAR North Rand.
The Virtual Challenge and the lead up to the event itself was supported by a group of deeply committed brand ambassadors who helped spread the word, to promote the cause behind the event and also took part on the day. These individuals tirelessly dedicated their time, effort, and influence to making the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge a success. They also took part on the day with Lucille Slade, Lindie Strydom, Charné Bosman, Ivan and Donnalee Botha, Hannah Grobler, Willem Botha, Warrior Ric, Bling it On Bibi, Rene Kalmer and Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp all doing their part!
“It’s astounding year after year to see how these amazing individuals join SPAR to use their reach and influence for good – and to see how the people of South Africa are always there to support our causes,” said Sean Komlosy, Divisional Marketing Director, SPAR Lowveld. “Although we could not host our usual SPAR races this year, the excitement and meaning behind them were not cancelled in the end and we are proud of what we achieved together on 26th September!”
The SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge was an unmitigated and resounding success nationwide. In the words of Brand Ambassador, Lindie Strydom: “This challenge was about so much more than just running. It was about bringing everyone together for a better South Africa. We don’t want to just enjoy the sunshine, but we actually want to #BeSunshine.”