Casual Day celebrates raising R23.5 million in style

Casual Day ambassador Terence Bridgett and wheelchair tennis champ Lucas Sithole.

The Gauteng awards breakfast for Casual Day, billed as “Breakfast with the Stars”, was a glittering affair. The organisations and NGOs that raised the most in sticker donations for this fundraising project that has seen the South African public open its hearts to persons with disabilities for almost two decades, were honoured for their selfless efforts. Casual Day celebrated raising the R23.5 million that was raised nationally last year in style. “This is an incredible achievement, considering the funds are raised R10 sticker at a time. This event brings tribute and thanks the thousands of volunteers that help us raise the funds,” says project leader Celeste Vinassa.

This year Casual Day celebrates its 20th anniversary and will be pulling out all the stops with its Bring out the Bling theme, which gives participants the opportunity to dress up, not down on Casual Day. Casual Day is a highlight on the calendar of the employees of many South African companies and invites all companies, government departments, public benefit organisations, schools, churches and individuals to join in the fun. On this day employers permit their employees to let their hair down, to dress in the theme and organise fun events in the workplace or do good works in their communities. It is an example of community spirit in action and unites all South Africans to create awareness of persons living with disabilities.

The top organisations that raised the most donations in Gauteng are: Alma School in Pretoria, The Gateway Society on the West Rand, Gauteng Provincial Association for Persons with Disabilities in Fordsburg, Sebokeng, Tembisa, Orange Farm, Tshwane and Ormonde, Con Amore School in Kempton Park, National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in SA in Edenvale, Sunshine Centre Association in Craighall and Germiston, Eureka School in Vereeniging, Deaf Federation of SA in Richmond, Johannesburg, Casa Do Sol School in Linden, Johannesburg and the Association for Persons with Disabilities, Greater Johannesburg in Westcliff. The funds are distributed to 500 schools and organisations that provide services to persons with disabilities all over the country.

Josephine Mukalula

Sponsored by The Edcon Group, Casual Day is the flagship project of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA), which this year celebrates 75 years of service to the community of persons with disabilities. Over the past 19 years, Casual Day has helped the NCPPDSA to fulfill its mandate of creating a barrier-free, fully accessible and inclusive society for all, raising almost R195 million.

The highlight of the breakfast in Midrand was a rousing talk US Open Wheelchair tennis champion, Lucas Sithole, who was there to provide inspiration to the 400 attendees. The enthusiastic gathering consisted of members from the project beneficiaries and participants, including representatives of the NCPPDSA, SA National Council for the Blind, SA Federation for Mental Health and Deaf Federation of SA. The new crop of beneficiaries were also present, including representatives from Autism South Africa, Down Syndrome South Africa, The National Association for Persons with Cerebral Palsy, the South African National Deaf Association, the National Institute for the Deaf, Alzheimer’s South Africa, the South African Disability Alliance and QuadPara Association of South Africa.

Long-time Casual Day ambassador and award-winning star of stage and screen, Terence Bridgett, was the Master of Ceremonies. He said had been involved with Casual Day for 14 years and that “you don’t join Casual Day for a year or two; you don’t join for a season, but for a lifetime.” Attendees were delighted by his performance of a song to the soundtrack of ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ which rounded off the events. He wrote his own lyrics and called the song ‘Casual Day Is Forever’.

Casual Day Project Team Chairman and Executive Committee member of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa Mac Mia gave some background history of the project, explaining that, “Casual Day was not built by one individual, it is a collective effort of which we can all be proud. Casual Day was built, one sticker at a time, by everyone who participated over the last 19 years.”

He continued, “2013 saw many positive changes – and we can already see and feel the effects.  Very importantly, we have ensured that the project remains in good hands and continues to serve its stakeholders in a sustainable and transparent way. The changes we have implemented are the first of a series of transformational ideas to create efficiencies and to better communicate with you, our most valuable partners.

“The competition in this space has become crowded with social agencies and fundraisers, each with a strong purpose and all chasing the same pots of gold. If we are to remain relevant and successful we need to strengthen the Casual Day brand and we need to target our audience as a trustworthy, transparent, accountable and focused campaign.”

Principal financial sponsor Edcon, was represented by Mercia Maserumule, the Edcon Group CSI Manager, Transformation and Corporate Affairs. She said that “Edcon understands that full inclusion and integration is important and that able-bodied people need education on issues of disability – so that they have information and are sensitised. The Casual Day project is one of the ways that Edcon can support the mandate of the NCPPDSA, which is to serve the needs of persons with disabilities. We want our staff and customers to be included in this education.”

For more information on how to participate in Casual Day go to www.casualday.co.za

The following NGOs in Gauteng raised were also honoured:

Casa Caritas – Kempton Park

Pretoria School – Pretoria Central

The Hamlet Foundation – Regents Park

Rotara School – Carltonville

SA Federation for Mental Health, National Office – Randburg

West Rand Association for Persons with Disabilities – Krugersdorp

Retina SA, North Gauteng – Pretoria

New Hope School – Pretoria

Pathways Roodepoort

Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, Gauteng – Florida Hills

East Rand Protective Workshop – Kempton Park

Retina SA, Gauteng – Edenglen, Edenvale

Autism South Africa – Braamfontein

Prinshof School – Pretoria

Via Nova School – East Lynne, Pretoria

Ann Harding Cheshire Home – Northwold, Johannesburg

Vaal Triangle Mental Health – Vanderbijlpark

Down Syndrome South Africa – Bruma, Johannesburg

The team who organises Casual Day pictured at the annual awards ceremony. From L to R: Faheema Granville, Zaza Khazemula, Bonita Lottering, Celeste Vinassa, Josephine Mukalula, Lanie Stoltz and Gabriel Hoffman.
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