Monday, March 30, 2009

Why I LOVE being a journalist!!!

Every so often I encounter a story along the way that reminds me why I am a journalist. One such story is that of Courtney Ellerbeck - a little blonde poppet who I have been following since the day she was born.
Nine years ago today little Courtney became South Africa's youngest crime victim when she was shot before she was born. Her mom Lesley was seven months pregnant when she was shot through the stomach in a botched hijacking attempt. Unborn Courtney was pulled from the womb during an emergency Caesar. She had a flesh wound to her buttocks.
I met her when she was six days old - she had just undergone her first operation. The bullet wound has left her a paraplegic. And while she has learnt to cope with her disability, she has had to undergo many operations to straighten out her little body as it twists during growth. A while ago her mom asked her what she wanted for her birthday this year. Her answer?
"Nothing really mom, although I would like to walk".
And so I wrote a story about Courtney's birthday wish. Now that her body is straightened out by metal pins and plates she can be fitted with callipers. And then, with the aid of crutches and after several months of physiotherapy she will be able to walk. It will not be easy, it will tax her muscles, but she will be able to stand and move ahead like any other normal nine-year-old child. It's a wish toned down from the one she expressed at the age of four when she tearfully told her granny that she wanted, with all her heart, to be able to dance like her little friends that she spotted in a ballet class at nursery school.
But the callipers cost almost R45 000. It's an amount of money completely out of reach of Courtney's family.
The story was carried in today's paper, and captured the attention of Jenny Crwys-Williams on 702 who ran appeals on radio. Readers phoned throughout the day, offering money and support. Listeners called in to 702, all pledging varying amounts.
By the end of the day I'd had two people phone me with offers to buy the callipers outright. The money pledged has come to close on R180 000!
People have opened their hearts. And they have given happily in the face of hard times. And my little friend Courtney is going to walk!
Life, indeed, is good!


  1. Wow - thats really heartwarming that so many people have responded!
    (Thats not the same story where is turned out that the woman's husband had contracted killers to assasinate his wife and call it a hijacking was it?)

  2. It has been the absolute best story to cover! And fortunately it's not the woman whose husband put out a hit on her. Courtney's mom was your basic garden variety Jozi crime victim. No particular reason for it. But the consequences have been devastating!!

  3. What a wonderful story... gives me hope for mankind!

  4. You deleted my comment..?! Too modest GG!