The Volvo Ocean Race has welcomed The Little Optimist to the Race Village in order to raise funds for children in hospitals. With every purchase of The Little Optimist book, visitors will be helping a child in need.

It all started when Greg Bertish, big-wave surfer, lifesaver, businessman, humanitarian, cardiac patient, survivor, founder and author of The Little Optimist, picked up a rare tropical bacteria that attacked his heart valves about 16 years ago. “I spent 200 days in the hospital, underwent two open-heart surgeries and suffered from re-infection,” says Bertish.

To mark his 200 days in the hospital, Bertish sailed a little Optimist dingy from Hangklip to Langebaan in April last year, to show kids and people that little people can do big things. He continues: “200km represented my 200 days spent in hospital fighting the bacteria. We raised an astounding R300 000 for the new ICU at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, and went on to raise R1 million to renovate and paint the hospital later in the year.”

Bertish then wrote the children’s book, The Little Optimist (also available in Xhosa and Afrikaans), illustrated by Chip Snaddon. He explains: “It was inspired by my own real-life little Optimist, the eight-foot ‘bathtub’ sailing dinghy which I sailed. It’s so small and square it should not even be a sailboat, but it has a huge heart and aspires to be a big yacht and prove to its peers that The Little Optimist, the dreamer, can and will be a real yacht and can sail and go where no one ever believed it could.”

The book is filled with adventure and brimming with life lessons about optimism and never ever giving up, and is for sale for R120 at the Race Village. For every copy bought, a copy will be donated to a sick child in hospital.

Bertish concludes: “Our aim is to inspire, raise funds and just do good. Its message is one of hope, overcoming hardship, never giving up, and small people doing big things. We want to give 5 000 free copies of the book to sick and needy kids for Christmas.”

As a heart patient, Bertish has since become a South African Champion Lifesaver, received National colours in stand-up paddle boarding, and surfed some of the biggest waves in the world. He is an ambassador for the Children’s Hospital Trust. He has also worked with and helped raise funds for the Reach for a Dream Foundation, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), Kids2Kids, Santa Shoe Box, Spirit Foundation and Sailing South Africa. He has achieved all of this as a multiple heart surgery survivor and patient. He continues to promote conservation, water safety, healthy living and optimism.

Read the amazing story of the Little Optimist and how they have helped those in need here http://thelittleoptimist.or

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