A day to remember at Umhlali Prep

From left, East Coast Radio's Mags van der Westhuizen, Josephine Kanniappen, Heidi and Chais Gaul, Ricky Smit, Umhlali Preparatory principal Astra Russell, Jack Gaul and Kevin Moor.

What started as a spur of the moment idea turned into the biggest fundraising event in the history of Umhlali Preparatory School reaching its climax on breakup day last week.

The idea that raised just over R150 560, came to one of the moms, Ricky Smit during a Grade 7 Fundraising Committee meeting.

“My best ideas are normally unplanned.

“I just thought we needed something new and when I was asked by one of the dads to say something, I started with the helicopter flip and the idea developed as I spoke,” said Smit, who is part of the Legend Aviation team and flies herself, but only for re-creation.

Smit arranged a helicopter picnic flight package as a raffle prize for four people involving a flight to Inanda for a picnic on the mountain.

To incentivise the kids to sell the R10,00 raffle tickets, she put together a real bucket list prize.

“The pupil who sold the most tickets would receive a ride in one of SMD’s exotic cars to the Virginia Airport, where a helicopter would fly them to school.”

Jack Gaul knew from day one that he would win and he did, selling R7100 in tickets and winning him the highly anticipated flight.

From left, Kevin Moor and Ricky Smit with their special little guest, Jack Gaul.

“I told my mom I would sell the most tickets. The best part of the flight was when I got to fly for a bit. It was so cool,” said the overwhelmed Jack, who was welcomed by the entire school chanting “well done Jack” as they landed on the Umhlali Prep rugby field.

This goosebumps moment was highly emotional for Smit, who was in the helicopter with Jack and their pilot – chief helicopter flight instructor at Legend Aviation, Kevin Moor.

“The moment we touched down and I heard the chanting, I was overcome with emotion and suddenly realised what I had done with this fundraiser.”

The pupils are bursting with excitement over the exotic cars and of course the landing of the helicopter on their rugby field.

Jack’s teacher, Josephine Kanniappen was lucky enough to join the flight and said she had butterflies in her stomach.

“My favourite part was flying over the sea – we saw dolphins and even whales!”

Smit said the raised money will be used to build a pavilion for the school’s sport fields.

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Elana Geist

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