Super Jace: A Little Hero’s Battle Against Leukaemia and the Power of Community Support

Super Jace: A Little Hero’s Battle Against Leukaemia and the Power of Community Support

Jace Hilse, known as Super Jace to his loved ones, is a 4-year-old remarkable young boy from Krugersdorp, Gauteng, whose imagination knows no bounds. From the moment he was born on 19 March 2020, his family affectionately called him their little superhero. Jace’s favourite activities include playing the role of a superhero or a first responder, always eager to save the day with his boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm. Now Jace is facing a challenge no child should ever have to endure, proving once again that not all superheros wear capes.


Pictured above: 4-year-old Jace Hilse also known as Super Jace

‘Jace was born via a natural water birth, and he literally came out with his one arm in the air like Superman and that is why we call him our superhero since birth. He has a big personality. He can be quite shy on some days. Most days he lives in his own little fantasy world where he is either a superhero, firefighter, policeman, and more recently a doctor.’ says Chante, Jace’s mum

The Easter Weekend in March 2024 brought heart-wrenching news for Jace and his family. He was diagnosed with B-cell Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia (ALL), a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. Further complicating his diagnosis, Jace was found to be among the mere 3% of children worldwide who have the genetic leukaemia marker known as the Philadelphia Chromosome. This revelation added another layer to the already daunting battle ahead.

‘As his parents we felt like our entire world shattered on the day of his diagnosis and was extremely heartbroken. He is our entire world and all we want is for him to be healthy again.’ says Jace’s dad, Jean-Pierre


Pictured above: Jace with his parents, Chante and Jean-Pierre, and his grandparents, Lu-marie and Thinus on Christmas Day 2024

Jace’s initial bone marrow biopsy revealed a staggering 93% cancer cell presence. Yet, in true superhero fashion, he has shown incredible resilience. With each subsequent biopsy, his cancer cells have significantly decreased, and two months into his treatment, his bone marrow now shows only 0.2% cancer cells. This dramatic improvement is a testament to Jace’s inner strength and the dedicated medical care he is receiving.

‘Jace has received two cycles of chemotherapy since his diagnosis at the beginning of April 2024. His little body is very sensitive to the chemotherapy and his blood cell counts drop extremely fast due to this and then he has to have breaks from his treatment. He misses out on so much of the normal stuff that kids his age get to do, like playing and seeing his friends or going to go see family. Since his diagnosis his life now consists of home, hospital or the doctor’s room.’ Chante tells us


Pictured above: Jace with sister Monica from the hospital

However, the journey is far from over. Jace’s young body is particularly sensitive to the harsh treatments required to combat his leukaemia. After extensive consultations with global experts, his medical team has determined that immunotherapy is the best course of action. This innovative treatment offers the most promise with the least side effects, crucial for preserving Jace’s overall health and vitality. Unfortunately, the financial burden of immunotherapy is significant, even with medical insurance. The out-of-pocket expenses are substantial, and Jace requires two cycles of this therapy to have the best chance of recovery.

‘Jace is currently doing well, he is on a small break after his second cycle. He is playing at home and keeping all of us on our toes. His last tests came back to show that his cancer cells have dropped to 0.14%.’ Jean-Pierre tells us

To help alleviate the financial burden that they are facing, Jace’s family has started a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy where they have already raised over R90 000 with the help of 59 incredible donors.

‘The money raised will help us to cover any of the excess costs for the immunotherapy that the medical aid won’t be able to cover.’ Chante explains


Pictured above: Jace riding his bike in the hospital play area

Jace’s family is unwavering in their mission to provide him with everything he needs to overcome this illness and reclaim his childhood. They dream of seeing him healthy and happy, back in school, and playing with his friends. The family’s goal is to ensure that Jace, their little superhero, can live out his dreams without the shadow of illness.

‘We would just like to say a huge thank you to all the donors for helping us in providing Jace with the best possible treatment. We can’t express our gratitude enough.’says Jean-Pierre and Chante

While there is no dedicated social media page for Jace, his family will be posting updates on the campaign to keep supporters informed of his progress. They invite everyone to join them in supporting Jace’s fight against leukaemia, demonstrating that not all heroes wear capes—some have ports.


Support Jace’s campaign here:

Robbie Gien Runs for a Cause: Ultra-Marathon Challenge to Support Vulnerable Children at Swallow’s Nest

Robbie Gien Runs for a Cause: Ultra-Marathon Challenge to Support Vulnerable Children at Swallow’s Nest

In a world where every step counts, 36-year-old Robbie Gien, a sales team leader at Pnet, an online recruitment platform, from Johannesburg,  is about to make each one truly significant. As an Ironman athlete since 2013, and a running enthusiast, Robbie is no stranger to pushing his limits. This year, he’s pushing them even further for a cause close to his heart—Swallow’s Nest.


Pictured above: Robbie Gien

‘I chose to raise funds for Swallow’s Nest because I love the work that they do to assist babies in getting through their hard start to life which was not their fault, usually due to negligent or unfortunate circumstances that their biological parents have been dealt in life.’ says Robbie


Swallow’s Nest: A Safe Haven for Vulnerable Children

Swallow’s Nest based in Queenswood, Pretoria, is not just a home; it’s a sanctuary for abandoned, abused, neglected, and special-needs children. Founded and lovingly maintained by 55-year-old Jeanette Birrell from Machadodorp, Mphumalanga since 2001, Swallow’s Nest provides temporary care until these children can be matched with adoptive families, reunited with their biological families, or placed into foster care. Over the past 21 years, Jeanette has cared for 208 babies, offering them a safe and nurturing environment during their most vulnerable moments. As a founding member of the Tshwane Place of Safety Association, which was founded in September 2003, Jeanette’s vision of giving each crisis child love and care in a private home has created a profound impact on countless lives.


Pictured above: Swallow’s Nest founder, Jeanette Birrell with a baby from the sanctuary

‘The roughest roads often lead to the most breathtaking views. Don’t be discouraged by a tough start; it’s just the beginning of your story.” This is for the babies in the care of Swallow’s Nest.’ explains Robbie


Preparation: The 2024 Comrades Marathon

Robbie’s journey to the Backyard Ultra began with another formidable race—the 2024 Comrades Marathon. Scheduled for June 9, the 85.9km up-run served as a preparation ground for Robbie, helping him build the endurance and mental fortitude required for the Backyard Ultra.


The Challenge: Backyard Ultra

On July 20, 2024, at Van Gaalens in Hartbeespoort in the North West Province, Robbie will take on one of the most gruelling challenges in the ultra-running world—the Backyard Ultra. This unique race format requires competitors to run a 6.7km lap every hour. Each lap must be completed within the hour, and whatever time remains is used for recovery before starting the next lap. The race continues until only one runner remains who can complete a lap.


Pictured above: Robbie proudly hold up his IronMan medal

‘Ultra running sends your mind into deep areas of negativity, hardship and despair. It’s easy for your mind to give up but when I think of the difference that I can make by using this marathon to help a child get a kickstart to a great future, it fuels me to drive on. The babies and children at Swallow’s Nest have not asked or done anything wrong to have this sort of hardship fall on their shoulders but they already show more resilience than most adults and I find that incredibly inspiring.’ Robbie tells us.


Running for Swallow’s Nest

With the children of Swallow’s Nest as his motivation, Robbie is determined to surpass his previous record of 11 laps by aiming to complete a minimum of 15 laps, covering over 100km. This incredible feat is not just a physical challenge but a mental one, as Robbie will continuously remind himself to push through with the mantra “Just One More Lap.”

‘The less I must stress about where the funding for the everyday needs come from, the more time I can spend with the babies and toddlers in my care.  I can focus on their development and other concerns. Seeing that most of the babies I take of are premature or drug addicted, this takes a lot of time and care!’ says Jeanette


Pictured above: A caretaker at Swallow’s Nest with some of the babies from the sanctuary


Supporting Swallow’s Nest

Robbie’s participation in the Backyard Ultra is more than a personal achievement; it’s a fundraising mission which he has started through a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy where he has already managed to raise over R22 000 with the help of 24 amazing donors. All funds raised through his race will be directly donated to Swallow’s Nest, ensuring that Jeanette can continue her invaluable work of providing a loving and secure environment for children in need.

‘The funds will provide the babies and toddlers in Jeanette’s home with milk formula, disposable nappies, toiletries, medication, food, nursery school fees and other general needs for the crisis children. Every donation counts. It may be such a cliché phrase, however the truth is that none of the babies had a choice to be in this situation and I believe it is our responsibility to assist where we can to give all the babies no matter their background, the best foot forward in life.’ explains Robbie


Support Robbie’s campaign here:


Lauren Mukheibir: Climbing to New Heights on the Road to Paris 2024

Lauren Mukheibir: Climbing to New Heights on the Road to Paris 2024

The last month has been a whirlwind of activity and hard training for 22-year-old sport climber, Lauren Mukheibir from Johannesburg. Returning to South Africa from Perth at the beginning of the month, Lauren made the decision to train rigorously as she prepares for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in July. 


Pictured above: Lauren Mukheibir training for the Paris Olympics 2024

Lauren will compete in both the Boulder and Lead categories at the Olympics. The Lead category involves a 16-meter-high wall with a route worth 100 points, while the Boulder category includes four boulders, each worth 25 points. The combined scores from both rounds will create a score out of 200 to determine the final placement.

“I train about 20 hours a week – 10 hours of climbing and 10 hours of strength training; it’s what my body can handle. Climbing at such a high level requires so much confidence and bravery,” Lauren explains.

Lauren, who will be one of four climbers representing South Africa in Paris, started an intense lead training program upon her return home. This program is designed to build her endurance as quickly as possible in preparation for both Paris and the Innsbruck World Cup, taking place from June 26-30. “I am doing Innsbruck to help me deal with competition nerves, gain some more international experience, and put to use what I have learned over the last couple of months. As such, doing well in Innsbruck is not my priority. It will be a competition to test where I stand, mentally and physically,” she says.


Pictured above: Lauren in her element of rock climbing

After Innsbruck, Lauren plans to compete in a local competition in Cape Town, which will be an excellent practice and preparation for Paris. She will continue her training until July 23, when the team leaves for Paris.

One of the biggest challenges Lauren faces is managing expenses before heading to Paris. Despite her pride and gratitude for being selected, every training session, physio appointment, doctor’s visit, equipment replacement, and travel expense needs to be covered personally. “I have to pay for myself. I am paying for the Innsbruck World Cup with no help from any government or national federation, and because of all my travels, the bills can become quite overwhelming. But I just have to say a HUGE thanks to my parents for supporting me emotionally, physically, and financially through this where needed,” she shares.


Pictured above: Lauren Mukheibir

Modestly, Lauren welcomes any donation, however small, to help her prepare for Paris. “For those who have donated so far, a huge thank you. Your generosity has helped pay for many weeks of training in Perth and physio appointments up to now. Thank you to those who have donated!”

The athletes will soon receive their South African Olympic kit, marking another significant milestone on their journey to the Olympics.

If you would like to support Lauren, she has a BackaBuddy account to help raise money for her pre-Olympic training. You can contribute by visiting her crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy where she has raised over R21 000 of her R200 000 goal with the help of 16 amazing donors. 


Support Lauren’s campaign here:


SOURCE: MyPressportal

From Street Child to Surfing Sensation: Paul Sampson’s Silver Medal Triumph in Liberia

From Street Child to Surfing Sensation: Paul Sampson’s Silver Medal Triumph in Liberia

Paul Sampson, a 24-year-old former street child from Muizenberg, Cape Town, is riding the waves of success on the international surfing stage. Recently, he showcased his talent at the first professional surfing event in Liberia, the African Surfing Confederation (ASC) African Surf Tour, held in Robertsport from Thursday, 23 May to Sunday, 28 May. Paul managed to secure a silver medal in this prestigious event.

Colin Fitch, his manager from Global Athlete Management Services, highlighted the high standards of the competition. “The event, which formed part of the newly formed African Surf Tour hosted by the African Surf Confederation in conjunction with the Liberian Surfing Federation with direct support from the President and the respective government department,” he explains.

Pictured above: Paul Sampson

A Journey Fueled by Passion

Paul’s love for surfing began at the tender age of 6. “I started surfing at the young age of six and I have progressed through all levels of this wonderful sport,” he shares. From participating in the Grom Games for young surfers to competing on the professional tour in Africa under the International World Surf League (WSL), Paul’s journey is truly inspiring.

The World Surf League comprises three levels of events: the regional Qualifying Series (QS), the Challenger Series (CS), and the Championship Tour (CT), which is considered the “jewel in the crown.” Paul’s recent victories at the Cape Town Pro (QS) in Cape Town and his performance in Port Elizabeth have catapulted him to joint first on the Africa Tour.


Making Waves on the World Stage

Paul is among a select few – one of only five male surfers from Africa – to reach the second level of the WSL Challenger Series. “This is a lifetime opportunity for me to show my surfing talent to the rest of the world,” he enthuses. His upcoming competitions span across Ballito, the United States of America (USA), Portugal, and Brazil as he surfs for his place among the top 80 surfers globally.

Reflecting on his second-place win at the ASC African Surf Tour, Paul says it marked an exciting start to his international professional surfing career. “A special thanks for the second-place winnings of $2,000 (roughly R36,000) which will go a long way to the start of my 2024 Challenger Series in South Africa, US Open and Portugal,” he acknowledges.

Pictured above: Paul celebrating his victory at the Benny Hikkaduwa Surfing Competition 2023

The Road Ahead

However, the road ahead requires financial support. To sustain his participation in various global events, Paul has initiated a BackaBuddy campaign to fund his professional surfing career. He explains, “The next upcoming event will take place at Willard Beach, Ballito-Durban and thereafter I will be heading to America, Portugal, and then Brazil for the final event.”

Paul’s advice to other surfers is simple yet profound: try your best. “Remember it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. I may look like the mutt from the streets of Lavender Hill but never take this as a sign of weakness,” he asserts.


Watch the video:


A Call for Support

To realise his dreams, Paul humbly requests financial assistance. “I humbly request any support from fellow South Africans and to anyone abroad who can assist me to accomplish my dream.” All funds raised will be used for travelling, accommodation, food, entry fees into the competition, insurance, and taxes.

Paul Sampson’s journey from the streets of Muizenberg to the waves of the world is a testament to the power of passion and perseverance. “I would love to continue this journey as an inspiration to everyone as I believe that anything is possible when your heart and mind are in the right place,” he concludes.


Support Paul’s campaign here:



Supporting Myles Harris: A Journey Through Bladder Cancer

Supporting Myles Harris: A Journey Through Bladder Cancer

On April 21st, 2024, Myles Harris, a 38-year-old freelance graphic designer from Durban Kwa-Zulu Natal, received the life-altering diagnosis of bladder cancer. This devastating news profoundly impacted his family, especially considering Myles’ existing chronic epilepsy, which he has had since he was 12-years-old, prevents him from working or living independently. Without private medical aid, the financial burden has been overwhelming.

Pictured above: Myles Harris

The journey began on April 16th, when Myles started experiencing severe stomach pains, along with frequent urination that included blood and blood clots. Concerned for his well-being, Myles visited a general practitioner, who urgently recommended seeing a specialist. The specialist’s immediate concern led to Myles being admitted to Gateway Busamed Hospital for a cystotomy, a surgical incision into the urinary bladder, due to the severity of his condition.

When I was told the news at first it never really sunk in that I had cancer, it’s a very heavy word and there was a bit of disbelief that this was happening. I was surprised, but I wasn’t freaked out about it.” says Myles

Pictured above: Myles with his family, mum Janene, dad Shaun, sisters Dale, Amy, and Kate, and brother-in-law Duncan at Kate and Duncan’s wedding in 2014

During the procedure, the surgeon discovered a massive tumour, managing to remove 90% of it. However, this was just the beginning of Myles’ medical journey.

To date, all medical expenses, including hospital admissions, procedures, medications, and tests, have been covered by Myles’ mother, Janene Askew (62). Initially, she utilised her savings, but those have since been depleted. She has now reached the limits of her credit cards and exhausted all bank loan options. The total costs have amounted to R102,600.

Pictured above: Myles and his mum Janene on his 38th birthday, a day before his procedure

“It came as a complete shock, words can’t describe the rush of emotions that came with the news, and following that was the worry of how we are going to get through this, as it was then stated that we had no time to waste for the next procedure so going to a government hospital wasn’t an option, but financially was our only option.” says Myles sister, Dale.

Myles needed another procedure on May 21st, 2024, to attempt to remove the remaining 10% of the tumour. If the cancer had spread into the muscle, he would have required an additional, more invasive procedure to remove his bladder. This step was crucial to prevent the cancer from spreading to his lymph nodes and other organs. The specialist emphasised the urgency, stating that waiting the 6-9 months typically required by government hospitals was not an option; the procedure had to occur within the next four weeks.

It is anticipated that the total cost for the procedure will rise to approximately R350,000. If further treatments are necessary, the financial demands will undoubtedly increase, and the family is unsure of what the future holds.

The Harris family is taking things day by day, remaining hopeful that this procedure will be the last Myles needs. They humbly reach out for help through the BackaBuddy crowdfunding campaign that the family has launched where they have already raised over R56 000 of their R350 000 goal with the help of 44 amazing donors. No contribution is too small. Whether supporters can share the BackaBuddy link on their social media or make a small donation, every bit of support is invaluable. 

Pictured above: Myles and his sister Dale at the hospital the day before his diagnosis

“Myles lives with my mom and does not have a steady income, all costs of living are supported by her. When all of this started loans and personal funds had to be used, but these options have been exhausted. So this money is to help my mom look after Myles, so that she can pay all the bills, and pay back the loans taken to get us through the past 6 weeks, of which are still coming in, as Myles does not have medical aid due to not having a steady source of income, again stemming from his epilepsy. We still have procedures and tests coming up, who knows what we are in for, but we are staying as positive as we can.” says Dale

“I want to thank you all so much for your donations, not just financial, but also the love, support and prayers throughout all of this. It has been so heart-warming knowing that so many people out there care and are willing to go out of their way to help me and my family. Family, friends, acquaintances and people I didn’t even know from around the world who had just gone out of their way to help. I also am grateful to all the people who had their churches praying for me, it is truly amazing.” says Myles

Support Myles’s campaign here:


Some Positive News

Myles’s last procedure went well. The doctor seemed confident that he removed the last of the tumour, and the biopsy results came back that the cancer had not spread into the bladder muscle. Myles needs to go for another in-hospital procedure on the 21st of August to check that the cancer has not grown back.

“I was obviously extremely happy that the surgery had been a success, I know that doctors and technologies are advanced and I was so grateful for that, as well as all the prayers that came through, this kept me positive.” explains Myles.

The Harris family is at a stage where they have to withdraw any funds they can to try and pay as much as they can for this past procedure, but they still have the next one coming up in August. Again, they have been advised that this cannot be done at a government hospital where the wait could be up to 6 months, whereas the surgeon said it must be in 3 months.