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Every morning, when Duane Vermeulen stands in front of the mirror, he tells himself three things: Never give up. Stand your ground. Believe in yourself. This Friday, on International Childhood Cancer Day, Vermeulen and his Vodacom Bulls teammates took a similar message to the brave children of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital who, on a daily basis, are fighting the biggest battle of their lives.

It is estimated that annually more than 300 000 children are diagnosed with cancer. International Childhood Cancer Day is part of a World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative to make childhood cancer a global health priority.

And every South African team competing in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition will be making it their priority as well as part of the greater Vodacom Super Rugby #TacklingCancer campaign for this season.

For every tackle made by a South African player during this year’s competition, Vodacom and SuperSport will together donate R100 to CHOC (the Childhood Cancer Foundation).

This Friday, Vermeulen and his Vodacom Bulls teammates took this a step further as they brought the inspiration of their Captain America-themed season and spend time in the Steve Biko Academic Hospital’s Paediatric Oncology Ward with the staff and children who are the real superheroes for the challenges they face on a daily basis.

“We’re supporting a great cause with CHOC this year. It’s good to be able to make a difference in this way,” says Vermeulen.

For Cordi van Niekerk, one of the founders of the popular CHOC Cows who participate in sports events to raise money for CHOC, this level of support is something he could never have dreamed of when they started the Cows 11 years ago.

“It’s insane. I never ever thought we’d get to this point with this kind of support. You know, I was on the side of the field at #SuperHeroSunday in Cape Town at the start of the season and with the rugby players who were cycling for CHOC, and I had to almost pinch myself and say, ‘This is happening. They’re all here supporting CHOC. It’s amazing,” he said.

And after Friday, when a child at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital looks in the mirror, he or she will hopefully know there is a rugby player standing behind them helping them to never give up.

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