Cecilia Wilmot Ballam completed 83 kilometres during the Karkloof Ultra over the weekend to raise funds for the family of a friend and colleague of 14 years who died of brain injuries sustained in a car accident in August.
Richard Makhuvha left behind his partner, Siphiwe Makushu, and their two boys aged one and six years.
Ballam told TimesLIVE on Monday that she ran the marathon to raise funds for Makhuvha’s children, now left in the care of their mother who is employed as a security guard.
She recounted her first encounter with him and described Makhuvha as a gentle and kind man.
“A client was being abusive to me and he was shouting. Richard took me by the hand and comforted me. From that moment I realised that this man will be family because he is so kind, so protective. He gave me courage. When I was in that part of the run I could feel him holding my hand,” she said.
Ballam and Makhuvha worked at Space Alchemy, a Johannesburg-based art company whose operations were halted during the lockdown. She said when they finally reopened and got to work with Makhuvha the day before the accident, she sensed that something bad would happen.
“The day before his accident we were working and he was helping me. I started crying thinking about how we were out of work during the lockdown but I also felt like something wrong would happen. He hugged me and said everything would be fine.
“We were all safe during the lockdown, no-one got infected with the coronavirus, and then an accident just suddenly happens. It’s too much,” a tearful Ballam told TimesLIVE.
She said Makhuvha’s death came as a shock.
“I did not see this coming. When he was in the hospital, I thought I would run to raise funds for the physio which he would need after he has been discharged. I was hoping that he would recover, I was hoping,” she said.
Makushu and Makhuvha had been together for 11 years before his unexpected death.
Makushu said though donations have been streaming in since Ballam’s marathon, she is anxious about the future.
She told TimesLIVE she had received about R6,500 by Monday evening.
“I don’t earn much as a security guard and our eldest son goes to a private school. His annual school fees are R8,000 and there’s a monthly transport fee of R500. The youngest son is still in diapers and on formula and I worry when I think about how I will cope by myself.”
She said she will use the money from donations towards Christmas clothes for their children and save some for a school uniform for their eldest son.
Ballam’s race was not without difficulty. 33km in, she endured a knee injury and after 40km, she could not bend her knee. However, she continued until completing the run in honour of Makhuvha.
“The Karkloof physio strapped my knee up and off I went to the second part of the marathon. The last 21km took nearly six hours to finish. I ran in the dark and in the pouring rain with the temperature at 7 °C. During the last kilometre I was just crying my eyes out but I did it and I know Richard would have been so proud,” she said.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)