Ricochet News

Bay athlete off to the middle east, racing to raise awareness for children with facial conditions

Nov 28, 2016
Bay athlete off to the middle east, racing to raise awareness for children with facial conditions

Local triathlete and spokesperson for the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), Luvuyo Bangazi, on Monday packed his bags for a charitable Ironman 70.3 race happening in Bahrain, in the Middle East, on Saturday, the 10th of December.

Bangazi, who has completed three full Ironman races in Nelson Mandela Bay, with the first in 2014 and the last earlier in 2016 has also raced and completed four Ironman 70.3 (half Ironman) races already.

He has not always been athletic or interested at all in physical activity as he weighed just shy of 120kg in early 2012. Since the encounter in December 2011 with his physician, who kindly advised him to either shape up of face the possibility of multiple weight-related chronic conditions, life has never been the same.

"It was at that moment when the lights came on for me" says Bangazi.

"I decided to grab at anything that would assist me shed kilos and be "healthy" again and that is when I stumbled on Triathlon doing the bike and run legs of the Corporate Triathlon in 2012" he reflected.

When faced with turning 40yrs old earlier this year Bangazi wanted to use his newly found passion for triathlon to do good. A married father to two girls 4yrs and 8yrs, for him the cause would revolve around children.

"I decided to do a little search for a cause I'd be driven to pursue, something that rings true with me and I found that in Smile Foundation South Africa. The Foundation has a dedicated Ironman team that is growing every year. Athletes join the foundation to raise awareness and much needed funds to finance facial reconstructive surgery for children who would never be able to do so by themselves.

"Smile Foundation represents everything that I stand for. I love kids and it breaks me to know that some might never be able to be just kids, laugh and smile like my two little angels, unless we all do our bit to change their lives" added Bangazi.

The fundraiser which started in July, Bangazi's birthday month has been going really well, raising funds and spreading the word. Next week Saturday the 10th Bangazi will put his five months of training to a test. Trained by Ironman legend Raynard Tissink in preparation for this race, Luvuyo will need all the skill and endurance he can master to do battle in Bahrain.

The middle east is typically hot and humid with gusty winds at times. Lucky for him December is winter time even though temperatures hover around 23 degrees. 

Bangazi would like to call upon Nelson Mandela Bay residents to support the efforts of the Smile Foundation Ironman team. Donations of any amount are welcome because every bit counts. To donate simply log in at www.givengain.com/ap/LuvuyoBangazi and donate any amount online. Bangazi has also setup a BLOG which he updates frequently, the blog documents his journey to Bahrain, read it here www.luvuyoracesforsmile.com