14 Nov 2013

It's Viva Las Vegas for rock 'n' roll runner

It’s Viva Las Vegas for rock ‘n’ roll runnerLas Vegas will soon become boogie city when thousands of fit rock ‘n’ rollers hit the strip for one of the world’s glitziest marathons.

With live rock sounds, neon lights and jiving spectators to liven up every mile, the marathon, being held on the 17th, promises to be a feast for the senses.

Fundraiser and charity founder Rob Nestor will be rock ‘n’ rollin alongside various Elvis wannabes to raise money in true style. Dressed to the nines in a psychedelic hippy trouser suit, he’ll be raising money for the African Village School Fund (AVSF) - a charity founded by he and his wife Lynn.

A community blighted by devastating survival rates

It all started in 2001 when the Nestor family, including their three children, visited Swaziland to film a “reality” documentary for Channel 4. Living in the community they now support, the Nestor’s saw, first-hand, the daily struggle to survive. Such was the impact of their experience it led to their creation of the AVSF charity.

The effects of HIV and AIDS, the prevalence of which is the highest in the world at 38.8 per cent, have hampered economic growth in Swaziland. Sadly, the country also suffers the lowest life expectancy (31.82 years for men and 32.62 years for women) and the highest rate of death worldwide (31.2 deaths per 1000 of the population).

Such devastating statistics mean the country of Swaziland is not only poverty stricken - it has left behind a generation of vulnerable, orphaned children.

Using sport to raise awareness of HIV

Working with these children in Swaziland, the charity seeks to provide the relief of financial hardship, love and care through education, training and health initiatives. By empowering children and communities, at a grass roots level, AVSF aims to help locals develop life skills and self-sustainability, whilst providing the foundations for economic growth.

They do this through various initiatives, the latest of which is Hamsey Rangers FC Swaziland. It’s a youth football team, set up by Rob and Lynn, to support children to support children who have previously slipped through the net. They may have been excluded from mainstream education due to circumstances such as caring for siblings/working/finances.

One in four are tested positive for HIV. Most of the children in the community have lost one or both parents before they reach their teenage years. The football team aims to educate the children about HIV, offer literacy and numeracy classes to those who have had to leave education early and support bereaved children with counseling.

Such is the success of the project that all children and coaches have tested negative for HIV. Funds, however, are urgently needed to continue the provision of the football coaching and educational classes.

MyDonate ticked all the boxes

Rob has raised an impressive £1,050 to date. Does he have any tips for other fundraisers? “Pure tenacity, a thick skin, patience and a definite ‘if you don't ask, you don't get ‘ attitude,” he said.

For Rob, every penny raised through MyDonate goes straight to the heart of their cause.

He said: “We are a tiny charity and just cannot afford the monthly fees for other well-known fundraising sites. Every penny we raise goes to our projects and monthly fees just prevent us from spending the money where it should be spent. We needed a trustworthy, easy to access site, a name people recognise and a link to post on social media sites. MyDonate ticked all the boxes.”

You can support the Elvis Presley wannabe through his fundraising page.

For more information about the African Village School Fund please visit their website.

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