Casual Day reaches significant milestone with R23.5 million


Words & Photo: Casual Day

A whopping R23.5 million was raised nationally last year by Casual Day, the fundraising project that has seen the South African public open its hearts to persons with disabilities for almost two decades. Casual Day celebrates its 20th anniversary year in 2014 and will be pulling out all the stops with its Bring out the Bling theme, which was recently announced at the project’s Gauteng awards ceremony.

The top performing organisations that raised the most donations in Gauteng are: Alma School in Pretoria (R286 317.00), The Gateway Society on the West Rand (R256 962.00), Gauteng Provincial Association for Persons with Disabilities in Fordsburg, with branches in Sebokeng, Tembisa, Orange Farm, Tshwane and Ormonde (R246 645.00), Con Amore School in Kempton Park (R234 530.00), the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in SA (NCPPDSA) in Edenvale (R202 428.00), Sunshine Centre Association in Craighall (R159 589.00), Eureka School in Vereeniging (R158 240.00), Deaf Federation of SA in Richmond, Johannesburg (R121 432.00) and Casa Do Sol School in Linden, Johannesburg (R116 850.00).

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 morning was a rousing talk by wheelchair tennis superstar Lucas Sithole, who lost both his legs and most of his right arm when he fell under a train aged 12, only to become the first South African to win a title at the US Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships. Sithole was there to cheer on the organisations and individuals that raised the most donations for Casual Day in Gauteng – and to provide inspiration at the event, billed as “Breakfast with the Stars”. He spoke from the heart on his triumph over adversity saying, “If you can wake up in the morning with dreams you can either get up and go for your dreams or carry on sleeping.”

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 you join for 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.”

Also on the podium was Helgard Muller, Casual Day ambassador who had his foot amputated after an agricultural accident in the US. The road to recovery was a long and painful process for him. He saw all the things he loved doing – being active, enjoying the outdoors and travelling – disappearing from his life. But then he got a bike which changed everything for him. He is far more active and involved in sport than before his accident. And now he is inspiring others. He undertook a 6000 km cycle tour around the borders of South Africa to raise awareness for Casual Day. He became the first person with a disability to cycle around South Africa when he completed the Casual Day Ride for Hope.

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.”

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.

At the event the theme for 2014 was announced – Bring out the Bling. Project leader Celeste Vinassa said afterwards, “To celebrate Casual Day’s 20th birthday we are inspiring South Africans to dress UP, not down. We hope that organisations and corporations will start planning their campaign soon as it takes the entire year for the Casual Day ‘train’ to roll out.

“The theme is Bring out the Bling and the colour for the year is Dazzle Blue, a dramatic colour relating to the world of the theatre. So our message to you is to rustle up a little razzle dazzle. Casual Day is all about fantasy and dressing up in things you can find around the house. Be creative with glitter, fabric, shiny paper, sequins or just wear your sticker and a posh casual attitude!”

For more information on how to participate in Casual Day go to

The following NGOs in Gauteng raised between R50 000 and R105 000:
• Association for Persons with Disabilities, Greater Johannesburg - Westcliff.
• Casa Caritas – Kempton Park
• Pretoria School – Pretoria Central
• The Hamlet Foundation – Regents Park
• Rotara School - Carletonville
• 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