A LITTLE girl who received the gift of ears – courtesy of the Smile Foundation – last week swam the Wakaberry Kids Across the River Special Needs race at the Spar River Mile in aid of the organisation that changed her life.
It was two years ago when plastic surgeons at the Provincial Hospital carefully constructed ears for little Naledi Alset, before surgically attaching them during a groundbreaking operation.
The nine-year-old from Walmer Township not only swam the race for children with disabilities but won it.
Smile Foundation convener Tanya Jackson said: “She came first in her race in a time of four minutes 11 seconds. We are very proud of her.
“The foundation was the beneficiary of the race and we are thrilled to have one of our very own patients not only participate, but win this race.” Naledi was born with no ears and a cleft palate. Her cleft palate was corrected after birth but doctors had to wait for her to grow a little because they needed some rib cartilage to perform the life-changing procedure.
East London plastic surgeon Dr Tim Perks came to Port Elizabeth specifically for Naledi’s special operation.
The Spar River Mile is not the only competition that has seen athletes rally to the aid of the Smile Foundation.
Last year a team of athletes participated in the Ironman 70.3 and the Ironman SA Championships to raise money for the foundation.
Jackson said this year the Smile Foundation’s Ironman team members were aiming to raise R500 000 for the charity.