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THE 2014 annual Tuna Classic officially ended on Saturday, having raised much needed funds to help cure baby Theo Eli Halgreen from Port Elizabeth, who was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney at five months.
The competition, organised by the Port Elizabeth Deep Sea Angling Club (Pedsac) and sponsored by BLG Logistics, kicked off at the Port Elizabeth harbour on Thursday.
It raised R100000 to help the parents of the now nine-month- old Theo of Fernglen pay for his chemotherapy, costing R40000 per session.
Although Tuna Classic winner André Wilkens from Klerksdorp’s gigantic catch of a rather stubborn yellowfin tuna, weighing a record-breaking 102.8kg, made headlines in the Bay, it was baby Theo’s presence at the Tuna Classic that stole hearts.
His mom, Shanel Gerber, said they were overwhelmed by the support they had received.
“Everybody wanted to help in one way or another and we truly are grateful,” she said. “Having our son diagnosed with Wilms’ tumour, especially at such a tender age, was the last thing we expected. He had to undergo an operation shortly after being diagnosed, in which the doctors removed his kidney before it became life-threatening. With the medical fund almost depleted, every little bit goes a long way.”
For Gerber, who works in the logistics sector, and her fiancé Theo Halgreen, owner of Classic Furnishers, the fortunate part of their cancer journey is that Theo’s condition is manageable.
“At first he received chemotherapy once a week, which saw our cancer benefit practically depleted. We can’t thank BLG and all those who opened their hearts to our son enough. Apart from the treatment he receives, his doctor is in Cape Town at the Red Cross Hospital and we have to pay for all the travelling and accommodation costs ourselves.”
Gerber said Theo was a happy, bubbly young lad. “And he’s responding well to the treatment. We have faith that he will pull through,” she said.
Pedsac organiser Pieter Didloff said an extra R70000 was raised at the prizegiving on Saturday to help Theo. “NautiTech sponsored a rubber duck and motor as second prize which wasn’t won by anyone and auctioned off for R35000 in donation to Theo,” Didloff said. “The rest of the funds were raised from donations from good Samaritans who want to help spread kidney cancer awareness.”
The Tuna Classic saw 30 boats and 165 anglers battle it out for the biggest tuna. But Wilkens, a land developer and farmer, walked away with the brand new Ford Ranger double cab first prize and R50000 for having the top boat in the competition. All the fish caught will be donated to charities in Nelson Mandela Bay. – Alvené du Plessis