Death-defying feats for a worthy cause

These abseilers were part of a daring initiative to raise money for the Rainbow Academy.

The Rainbow Academy has been working hard to raise funds for the students who will form part of the course next year, and to help with the school’s operational costs.

Three young entrepreneurs and two former students of the Rainbow Academy abseiled down 106 Adderley Street, which houses Rainbow Academy.

To raise money on October 14, they braved their fear, hanging off the front of the building supported by ropes while people in the street cheered them on as they descended.

And although the initiative was not as well-received as they had hoped, they described the experience as “amazing”.

The abseiling fund-raiser was the idea of Emily Whitefield, a founder of Student At Home, also housed at 106 Adderley Street.

“I came up with the idea to abseil. Power Coat was busy with the external facade of the building, and I made a joke and said I wanted to abseil. And then I had this crazy moment where I went to Rainbow Academy and said, ‘guys I got this amazing initiative that I want us to do.’

“It was such a great success and it really was fabulous.

“I actually loved every second of it. It was hysterical. John (Ramsey) and Eric (Mwepu) and I, we went down first and they were petrified. As soon as I got over the top lip and relaxed into it I was fine. I was dancing and pushing. I was fearless.

“But also the cheering of the kids helped, and knowing that you are doing it for a good cause and having the support of your family. My mom and boyfriend were at the top looking down, and my mom was more nervous than I was. Every time I jumped out, I could hear her saying, ‘Stop doing that.’

Each of the abseilers reached out to their contacts and asked to be sponsored for the event.

The aim was for them each to raise
R15 000, the cost to put one student through the course.

“The cause was also placed on BackaBuddy, a crowdfunding website where people could donate directly to Rainbow Academy.

Former student, Odwa Bongo, also took part.

He said Rainbow Academy often gives him and his team exposure at events, and he was honoured to help them with the abseiling challenge.

“I thought it would be good because it’s my old school, and someone was probably raising funds for me too when I attended the school.”

He said the experience had been scary as the building was steep, but he had been happy to conquer his fear.

John Ramsey of Techlinc said the experience had been daunting. “It was freaky having to climb off the edge of the building, but you look down and you see the kids and their faces and them cheering, and it’s worth it.

“I’m looking forward to the next crazy fund-raiser that we can participate in.”

The events co-ordinator of Rainbow Academy, Glynis Jacobs, said the school, a non-profit organisation, is aiming to raise money for students wants.

“Rainbow Academy is a school of performing arts and business. When students leave here, they get prepared for the industry. They get taught how to audition, how to draw up a CV and how to put shows together.”

The Rainbow Academy offers a one-year bridging course. After students train at Rainbow Academy and write exams, they get a certificate, which opens doors to scholarships and bursaries at tertiary institutions, such as UCT or UWC, said Ms Jacobs.

She said the students were often asked to perform at events at other businesses in the CBD.

“We built a solid relationship with the businesses in the city centre.

“If the businesses support us, we will give back to you by performing at functions, or they will support us solely because it’s part of their community service.

“Some businesses give donations, sponsor a student, sponsor musical instruments, or contribute to the operations at the school.”

She said the Rainbow Academy had recently built a relationship with the V&A Waterfront, where students have auditioned to buskfor the festive season.

The students are also involved with the City Central Improvement District maintenance projects, and perform at the Taj Hotel, Mandela Rhodes Place, The President Hotel and The Crypt Jazz pub, among other venues.

She said they were also sponsored by the group of companies at 106 Adderley Street, such as EuroCape, which assists Rainbow Academy with its finances and book keeping; Student at Home; and Techlinc, which helps with all their IT requirements.

Other sponsors include Doppio Zero, Ogilvy and Matther, the National Arts Council of South Africa the Woolworths MySchool programme, to name a few.

Ms Jacobs said the students paid R750 a month for the course.

Because most of their students are from underprivileged backgrounds, Rainbow Academy is hard at work fund-raising for those who will enter the programme next year.

The highlight of the year is the Rainbow Academy gala dinner, happening at the President Hotel in Bantry Bay on November 12.

Ms Jacobs said the event, themed 007 this year, and to target corporates and get them to book tables at the event.

“Tickets cost R1 000. If corporates book a table for 10, it’s
R10 000 towards the student scholarships.”

“Not only is it them enjoying a night of seeing our students perform, but they will be donating to a worthy cause.

“We will also have special guests, such as Gareth Cliff, who will be our MC, and Dylan Plaatjies, the busker who was discovered on a railway station. All of the guests are donating their time.”

She would besides the bookings, they will have a number of raffles and prizes that would be auctioned off.

They want to raise R150 000 to put 30 students through the course at R15 000 a student, said Ms Jacobs.

Visit to find out how you can sponsor one of the abseilers, or contact