Source: IOL (Extract)
May 1, 2022

Johannesburg – Dog owners across the nation have been urged to grab their walking shoes, collars and leads in a fun and innovative bid to raise much-needed funds for the South African Guide-Dogs Association.

As the non-profit organisation does not receive any government funding and relies solely on donations and fund-raising activities to keep their doors open, they are once again staging a virtual walkathon in the hopes of raising money for their operations.

The association’s Step Up for Guide-Dogs Walkathon will take place from May 3 to May 10 as they challenge each participant to take 100 000 steps over the eight-day period.

South African Guide-Dogs Association’s regional marketing manager Jackie Quail explained that the virtual nature of the event is to include as many people as possible.

“The reason we keep the walkathon as an online event is so that anyone across South Africa can participate in the event.”

Quail hopes to raise R350 000 during the walkathon and she said all proceeds will go towards the valuable work they do.

“The South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind breeds and trains guide-dogs for people who are visually impaired, service dogs for people who are physically disabled and autism support dogs for children who are on the low autism spectrum,” she said.

In order to get involved in the Step Up for Guide-Dogs Walkathon, Quail said people can sign up on their website and once they have filled in the entry form, they will then be emailed instructions on how to set up their fund-raising page on the GivenGain platform.

“After they are all set up, they can appeal to friends and family to donate towards or sponsor their walk.”

She added that participants can record their steps on their smartwatch or phone and update their GivenGain page daily with their progress.

“Participants need to take 100 000 steps in the eight days that the walkathon runs for and they can do this in their own time, anywhere in South Africa.”

For those not interested in walking, Quail said that they can still get involved by donating to one of the fund-raisers or teams participating in the walk.

The very first Step Up for Guide-Dogs Walkathon was staged during the hard lockdown back in 2020 and as this is the third year of the event, which is one of the biggest on the association’s calendar, they have now added more elements.


“This year is different as we have now added the element of a scavenger hunt,” said Quail.

She added that during Walkathon Week, the association will also be announcing different scavenger hunt places and items for people to find while out on their walks.

“They can then snap a photo and tag us in on social media and stand a chance to win some awesome prizes.”

Other prizes include R2 500 worth of Mr Price Sport vouchers as well as R2 000 worth of online vouchers from Dogs Life.

Another appealing aspect of the walkathon is that it allows guide-dog owners themselves the chance to participate in the worthy cause.

“The Step up for Guide-Dogs Walkathon is an important event on our calendar as it is one of the few events that guide-dog owners can take part in no matter where they are in South Africa.

“Our guide-dog owner clients are always out and about walking with their guide-dogs and it is a fun activity for them to turn this into a fund-raising activity at the same time.”

Quail added that she is impressed by the response so far to this year’s walkathon and she expects the latest instalment to be bigger and better than ever.

“We have had a great response and the entries are coming in quickly. Last year we had over 200 participants and we are hoping to have even more this year.”

While the walkathon is one of the association’s biggest yearly highlights, they also host and oversee a range of other campaigns.

“With all of our campaigns and events, we are always wanting to raise awareness about what the SA Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind does as well as to raise funds for the association,” said Quail.

She said that all those who would like to contribute towards the association can do so by visiting their website for additional information.

“People can get involved and support us through donations and monthly debit orders. They can also buy merchandise from our web shop and much more.”

For more information on SA Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind as well as their walkathon, visit Guidedog.org.za or email JackieQ@guidedog.org.za.

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