Volunteers are always valued and much appreciated, but this heartwarming story from parkrun South Africa, just gives an extra special reason why.
I will never forget the day, 6th June 2017, when Gerhardus Linde stepped into our lives at Hartenbos parkrun. He was there to volunteer. I will also not forget when his mother put on his hi-vis vest and explained to him he must wear it because he is “going to work”.
We discussed it beforehand and it was explained that he can be a tad unpredictable at times and it might happen that he would get up on a Saturday morning and decide he is not going to parkrun that day. And so Gerhardus’ volunteering journey started and continued.
Not ONCE since that day in 2017 has he ever been absent from parkrun out of choice. Rain or shine. Not even the occasional flu or cold or his mother’s foot operation could keep him away from parkrun. There was one time when they visited his sibling in Cape Town and he was very upset because he could not go to work on Saturday morning. With the next visit we arranged for him to volunteer at Greenpoint parkrun as a marshal.
More recently he visited his grandmother in Gauteng and due to her not having her own transport was forced to go on a sabbatical of five Saturdays. It was a joyous day when he returned – not only for him but for all our regular Hartenbos parkrunners. To know our car keys are taken good care of, his marshalling skills to direct the participants to the finish and afterwards the post-event close-down duties he performs.
This is what Gerrit and Jarica Linde, his parents have to say: “Gerhardus is always excited to go to parkrun. Every day he asks when it is time for parkrun so that he can “work”. He also enjoys the themed runs when he can dress up. “Working” as a volunteer makes him feel important and very special. He is now doing many of the duties entrusted to him independently and with confidence. The Hartenbos parkrun community has accepted Gerhardus just as he is – and that means a lot to him and us. He just loves his ENTIRE parkrun family.”
Gerhardus achieved his 100th volunteering milestone recently and we were all very proud OF him and WITH him. You are indeed a bright star GERHARDUS LINDE!
Ita Janse van Rensburg
Volunteer Coordinator, Hartenbos parkrun
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