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The Jewish Report Editorial

Making their Marx: heroes who beat the odds

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The name Kiki Marx is on so many lips this week. I can’t tell you how many times last Saturday I was told that this woman – a local Johannesburg anaesthetist – was challenging herself to swim the English Channel.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Aug 29, 2019

Interesting, I thought at the time. Little did I know how many top long-distance swimmers have tried and failed to make it across. Little did I know that she would be the first South African Jewish woman to do this. Little did I know how steep the odds were, and that more people have climbed to the top of Everest than have made it across the channel. Little did I know this was her second attempt.

Suffice to say, there were many happy, bleary eyed people on Sunday after having watched her (via streamed content) succeed in fulfilling her childhood dream.

From then on, I was inundated with people telling me that the newspaper needed to tell Marx’s story, and that she was a hero. I had three of our small pool of journalists asking to do the story, but Nicola Miltz stayed up all of Saturday night watching so that she could tell it. Defying odds is what this is all about…

What is it about Marx that captured our imagination?

We are looking for stories where good triumphs. We want good news. We want to see amazing people defying the odds.

Generally speaking, life in South Africa is a bit disconcerting and somewhat depressing. Human nature dictates that we find stories that inspire us and capture our imagination.

Marx did just that.

It’s so inspiring to read about someone who has set a tough goal, one that most people cannot achieve, and succeeds. It’s wonderful to see all the determination, hard work, and effort coming up trumps.

Her story is not about someone with a natural-born talent who breezes to success, but someone who put in the whole nine yards and broke through barriers.

Marx is not 25, she has just turned 50. She is also not necessarily an Olympic swimmer. It’s sheer guts, grit, and perseverance that got her to the other side of the English Channel.

There is obviously something remarkable about innate talent. It’s phenomenal to see child prodigies soaring to success. It’s breathtaking to see natural dancers become prima ballerinas and make looking graceful so easy – because partly it is for them.

But, it’s so much more inspiring to see people like Marx who take on a crazy, tough challenge, and train and push themselves to the limits to succeed.

It makes each one of us realise that there is very little that is insurmountable, and that we can realise our dreams if we really put in the effort needed.

Marx’s is a story I want to tell my children, and one I hope they tell theirs one day.

There is another woman in our newspaper this week who had a dream and fulfilled it. Hayley Elin suffered a terrible loss when her husband, David, died after a long illness. Her sadness and devastation was life-changing. Instead of giving in to it, she decided that the place that had supported her and her husband while he was sick needed her help.

HospiceWits in Houghton was dilapidated and, because of that, it was seriously depressing just being in the building.

The guardian angels who work there have helped so many over the years, but the state of the building has never been their priority.

Elin knew she could help, even though she didn’t have the funds to do it herself. Instead of seeing the huge mountain of money it would take to fix the place, she saw possibilities. She called on friends to help.

Today, the place is beautiful, comforting, and offers hope to many more families who will spend countless hours there.

This is all because Elin had a dream and a goal that was going to take a lot of work, passion, and commitment.

People like Marx and Elin are role models in our community – or I believe they should be.

It doesn’t matter that you and I may never even consider swimming across the Vaal River, never mind the English Channel. It’s about having a clear and positive goal that is tough to accomplish, but evidently doable with a real effort.

It could be to find a way to help those who are desperate for food, a job, even survival. It could be finding a job after not having had one for a long time, or achieving any number of things that are personal goals.

As much as things are tough in South Africa and we have reason to feel concerned, we can triumph if that’s our mission. We can find our own little – or huge – something to make a difference to our and other people’s lives.

We can be a Kiki Marx or a Hayley Elin, and we can inspire others by our actions. We simply need to set our mind to it, and make it happen.

Shabbat Shalom!

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