Boardwalk CEO has high hopes for CEO Sympathy SleepOut event


In an effort to give back to the community and make a difference, The Boardwalk will be hosting its first ever CEO Sympathy SleepOut on the 28th of July.

The CEO SleepOut was founded in Australia in 2006 and aims to challenge local business owners to help raise funds and garner empathy for the less fortunate and put the business owners in the shoes of the homeless so that they experience the challenges they face on a daily basis.

South Africa hosted its first SleepOut event last year in outside the JSE in Johannesburg which experienced great success.

RNews spoke to Boardwalk CEO, Brett Hoppe, to get more information about this year’s SleepOut.

“We’re really, really excited at the moment because it’s become a lot more expensive, and at the end of the day this is all about charity and how much we can generate,” he said.

“I think this year it’s much more relevant because they’re on the Mandela Bridge. That’s pretty cool in itself.”

Hoppe said that last year’s SleepOut fundraiser managed to raise more than R26 million, and many top business leaders in South Africa have already agreed to participate in the event this year.

“On the back of last year’s success what we’ve decided to do is try and make it as big as we possibly can. Money raised remains in the province, so we’re not generating charity in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in the Eastern Cape and then draining it out to another Province despite the fact that it’s a national event.”

The Boardwalk is focusing on two charities this year to raise funds for, namely the Healing Minds Community Centre and the Khayalethu Boys. Each charity has also provided a list of things that they are in desperate need of, so money is not the only way to help out at the event.

“In order not to discourage anyone from participation we’ve created it in a way that companies can contribute in kind. We have a list of products that the two charities we are funding need, so the donation doesn’t necessarily have to be cash,” Hoppe described.

The thing that makes this charity stand out is the fact that these CEO’s, while willing to donate money and supplies, also want to empathise with homeless people on a very real level by becoming homeless for a night and sleeping outside. In these cold winter months having to sleep outside with almost nothing to shield you, one can only imagine how challenging this will be.

“It’s easy to cut a check, it’s far more difficult to go out there and do the charity yourself, and this one forces you, because we will be sleeping outside. It really forces you to focus your mind on those less fortunate than us, and actually pay attention to that,” Hoppe adds.

People interested in viewing the progress of the SleepOut and the many CEO’s participating may have a chance to view it from the comfort of their homes as there have been talks of a live stream of the event.

“We’ve had massive support from the corporate world. Each supplier’s climbed behind us in a different way, what we’re hoping to do on the evening is to create a streaming network, so the bridge will be streaming into us, and we will be streaming out to the bridge. So you will be able to see, and hopefully all the SleepOut’s will be linked together in this live stream so you will be able to see,” he explained.

Some corporate owners have even entered the event as a sort of challenge to other CEO’s to see who can donate more and convinced them to enter the event.

“It’s kind of trying to bring the whole business community together in one particular period to make a difference. PE has really climbed behind us and there are a lot of very high profile organisations in the city have got behind us, so we’re very excited and it’s progressing fantastically well thus far,” said Hoppe.

The SleepOut will take place on the 28th of July, for more information please contact Michelle Brown PR on cell: 084 222 9347 or email: [email protected] .