Alex Mitchley
2 minute read
7 Jun 2014
11:00 am

Getting inked for charity

Alex Mitchley

Shattering stigmas, getting inked, being jovial and breaking tattoo virginities in the process – all in the name of saving lives: we are talking about the annual Tattooathon held across South Africa yesterday.

Bryan DuRand does a tattoo at Fallen Heroes in Parkhurst, 6 June 2014. Fallen Heros took part in the annual CHOC tattoo-a-thon that raised money for children with cancer. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The Tattooathon is a charity event where people get tattooed to raise funds and awareness for children with cancer. The proceeds go to Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa (Choc). 

Organiser Jordan Grey said there is nothing more fulfilling than having the opportunity to help kids who suffer from cancer – but added the bonus was breaking perceptions while doing so. 

“The tattoo artists and people getting tattooed are perceived to be ‘skollies’, but they have hearts of gold. They are brilliant people donating money and lending their skills to make an impact,” said Grey. 

Johannesburg-based tattoo studio Fallen Heroes had a full day of tattooing, but that did not deter them from their mission, as the event hits close to home for owners Jen and Thys Uys.

“This event is close to the heart as my husband has leukemia, but he is now in remission. 

“We actually found out six months before the first Tattooathon,” said Jen. 

Thys said the event means a lot to them and is an opportunity to raise awareness and help families. 

Fallen Heroes also enjoy seeing the new customers. 

“There are lots of newbies that come to get tattooed during the Tattooathon, breaking their tattoo virginity.”

True Blue Tattoo Studio in Pretoria also got on board and have been having a jovial, but chaotic time.

“All and all it has been wonderful. Choc representatives were here and we met them in person. It’s a bit like Chinese New Year? Not meant for you – but what the hell, you’ll celebrate it anyway,” said studio owner Louis Potgieter.

One Tattooathon client was Retha Mboya, the youngest sister of actress Hlubi Mboya. She got a dragon in support of the event. Her sister Hlubi was waiting in line to get inked for charity.

“I think it’s a great concept, you know, helping out children with cancer. What better cause could you go for,” said Retha.

Adri Ludick, divisional manager for Gauteng Choc, said when the Tattooathon first started she asked herself: “Tattoos for cancer? How does that work?”

She said she soon learnt how amazing the people in the tattoo industry are. Her own perceptions had been shattered.

The Tattooathon started in 2012 with 10 tattoo studios taking part.

The initiative raised R70 000 in its first year. The following year it grew to 34 studios from across the  country, raising R250 000.

This year, Grey hopes to raise more than R500 000 with 48 studios taking part.