Giant Helping Hand

Time for a ‘feel-good’ story, something positive and uplifting to raise the spirits until they soar with hope and belief in the goodness of mankind.
It wasn’t just because the weather was stunning at De Zalze golf estate last Friday, nor that the company in the fourball at the Jacques Kallis Foundation golf day was hearty and in-form. It was, as always, because of the unmistakable look in the eyes of boys whose lives have been irreversibly changed for the better.

Proudly seated at the prize-giving dinner in their smart school blazers, with Kallis, the five 2009 scholarship winners had smiles as broad as you could ever see. Ranging in age from 14 to 17, boys with cricketing potential from anywhere in the country are given a place at one of four ‘traditional’ cricket playing schools – Maritzburg College, Selborne, Pretoria Boys High or Kallis’ alma mater, Wynberg Boys High in Cape Town.

Since the Foundation was formed in 2006 with the entire proceeds of Kallis’ Benefit Year (close to R800,000), there have been 19 matriculants from disadvantaged backgrounds, all of whom continue to make progress with their cricket careers in various academies and provincial amateur teams around the country.

From 2010 however, there may be more than five inductees per year thanks to the extraordinary generousity of a lady who died last year and left just over R3.5 million rand to the Foundation.

The announcement was made before prize-giving at De Zalze rendering the memorabilia auction a little redundant but putting a huge smile on the faces of Kallis, his manager Dave Rundle and everyone else associated with the Foundation.

Madeleine Hiltermann never married and lived a humble life in a modest town house in Newlands and only met Kallis once. But she liked what she saw and heard from South Africa’s greatest all round cricketer to make an alteration to her last will and testament significant enough to change the Foundation forever.

“It costs about R45,000 per boy, per year,” says Rundle. “The golf day is one of two or three ways we raise money but we are heavily reliant on our patrons and other sponsors. Madeleine Hiltermann has changed the landscape now. With careful planning we might even be able to expand and help more boys with their education and their cricket.”

It was Kallis’ simple explanation of his motives and intentions which, apparently, won the wealthy spinster’s admiration. “I had a lot of help from a lot of people along the way. Mum died when I was very young but people always helped us because Dad was working a lot of the time. When he died in 2003 people continued to help. Now I want to help others and give them the chances I was lucky enough to have,” Kallis says.

Bhoteki Mbombi was at the dinner, too. He matriculated last year and is now in his first year studying Human Movement at Stellenbosch University: “It has been an incredible journey since I was first ‘spotted’ in Limpopo three years ago. I owe everything to Jacques – what he is doing with his Foundation is very, very special.”

There, I told you it was a happy story!

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