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Norma and Sam take on Kili

Norma Millar and Samantha Antoncich will tackle Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the Talk Sign Campaign.

TWO women will take on Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness and funds for the Talk Sign Campaign.

Norma Millar, a Talk Sign Ambassador, and her best friend, Samantha Antoncich, will make the climb from 6 to 14 February, and all funds raised will go towards the campaign, which is an initiative of the KZN Blind and Deaf Society.

The aim of the Talk Sign Campaign is to promote South African Sign Language and raise money through fundraising projects and the sale of Talk Sign stickers. These funds will be used to educate and find employment for people who are deaf.

Norma’s parents are both deaf, and she is very much part of the deaf community and, in turn, passionate about raising awareness for Sign Language.

“The deaf community is the closest-knit community which I have been exposed to. It is very difficult for people who are deaf to be fully part of a hearing social event, as it is hard to lip read unless someone is facing you squarely, so group conversations in a hearing environment are incredibly strenuous and challenging. If more people knew Sign Language, people who are deaf or hard of hearing would not feel so isolated and lonely in these environments,” said Norma.

As she and Samantha have been friends for 25 years, Norma could think of no better person to climb Kilimanjaro with her than Sam.

In their twenties the friends did the Camel Adventure Challenge together, and although they were completely unprepared they did exceptionally well. When Norma approached Sam to join her on the climb, one of her 'bucket list' items, Sam was not too keen.

Norma very persuasively explained that when they have grandchildren she will be the ‘machine of a granny’ who did the Camel Adventure and climbed Kilimanjaro for charity, while Sam would have simply just completed the Camel Adventure.

This was enough to get Sam on board, who also feels passionately about the plight of people who are deaf, having spent a lot of time with Norma’s parents, Jean and Bobby.

In June last year Norma had a health scare, and the goal to climb Kilimanjaro was intensified for both climbers.

“You just never know what life holds. You have to do the things you want to while you are healthy and able and, in turn, make as many memories as possible while you can,” Norma said.

“Norms having had cancer last year has really made me think that if we can tackle life by the horns then that is what we should do! I have seen first-hand what strength of spirit can do to overcome such a scary disease, and climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenge that requires strength of body, mind and spirit,” said Sam.

She said she was looking forward to pushing herself to try to achieve a successful summit, and was looking forward to doing it with her 'soul mate friend'.

“If she can conquer cancer, then we can hopefully conquer the mountain,” said Sam.

Norma wants to bring back a little rock for each of her three children and her husband, as there is a tradition that any rock taken off the mountain must be put back. The intention is that when her youngest, Ben, turns 18 the whole family, including Matt, Daniella and hubby, Clyde, will do it together.

Should you wish to sponsor them, make a deposit into the bank account – no amount is too small. Banking details: Standard Bank, account name KZNBDS, account number 050 715 410, Kingsmead branch (040026). Use reference 'TS Norms and Sam' plus your name. Email proof of payment to ruvanya@talksign.co.za or fax to 031 309 3048.

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