Little Adriaan le Roux from Esperanza Primary School in Newlands received a visit from his Vodacom Blue Bulls heroes on September 5. Le Roux is a beneficiary of the Smile Foundation, which helps children with facial abnormalities to receive free corrective surgery.
To date, the foundation has helped to put the smile back on the faces of over 2 600 children. This season, Vodacom Super Rugby teamed up with the Smile Foundation for the Vodacom Tries for Smiles campaign where Vodacom dedicated themselves to pay R3 000 for every try scored by a South African team to the foundation.
As the season came to a close, 244 tries have been scored and R732 000 has been raised for children who are in need of surgeries. Le Roux’s bond with the Vodacom Bulls and the Tries for Smile started in May when he was chosen to be the Child Mascot when the Bulls took on the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash.
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The Grade 1 learner then went for a four-hour surgery in April for his ears. According to his mother, Mariaan Britz, Le Roux had to go for a reconstructive surgery on both ears.
“The kids were actually cruel towards him. I was sometimes furious because he will come home and tell me that the children are saying that he looks like a monkey because of his ears and sometimes he was heartbroken, sometimes in tears coming home so I decided to do his ears and I didn’t even know that the Smile Foundation was going to do it.
“I just went to Joburg Gen (Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital) and the doctor phoned me and said to me that the Foundation was going to contact me. It was quite a happy day for Adriaan to meet the Blue Bulls,” explained Britz.
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The two Rugby players who visited the school were Lood De Jager who scored 3 tries and Lizo Gqoboka who scored 1.
When asked what being part of the campaign meant to them, Gqoboka said: “I always said that if everything is still about you then you haven’t found your purpose yet.
“I think it’s such an amazing initiative and it gives us great joy to play for something better than yourself and your family. It just warmed my heart to have met one of the guys who got helped by this initiative. It’s really encouraging.”
De Jager said: “There are so many kids that are in need in South Africa and for us just to make a little contribution to improve someone’s quality of life is great for us and I think that’s the reason why we play to be a part of something better.”
The visit came with a small class party with cake and cupcakes for le Roux, a signed Blue Bulls jersey and Rugby ball. Britz concluded by saying: “What I would like to say as a mother, if your child has some sort of need for an operation and you get the opportunity, grab it with both hands. There are people who can help you, you just need to go out there and find them.”
The happy mum added that Le Roux’s self-esteem improved after the surgery and the children have stopped teasing him.
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