Newsflash! Spiderman spotted running for Elisa
Spiderman has been spotted in the east of Pretoria, with numerous reports of the superhero running in traffic. Some even say they saw Spiderman outrun a taxi!
HomeTimes investigated the claims and, thanks to Facebook, it was fairly easy to get in touch with the real-life hero behind the comic book character.
Eric Nefdt, a humble, nice-guy real estate agent at Fine and Country Pretoria East, likes adventure runs, loves kids and thinks Riaan Manser, who famously trekked around Africa on his bicycle, is an inspiration to all.
Elisa the Brave
What makes Nefdt’s running special, though, is the fact that he is running for a cause; this father-of-two runs for Elisa Ingoglia who was born on 31 May 2013. At three days old she suffered heart failure, necessitating an emergency open heart surgery at just four days old. Samantha and Filipo Ingoglia, and Luca (Elisa’s then-three-year-old brother), spent the first month of Elisa’s life in uncertainty and fear as Elisa had to undergo further procedures. Her family was finally able to take little Elisa home after 31 days in hospital.
Elisa required a second open heart surgery at six months old, after which she thrived and reached her milestones as expected. But then, at 15 months old, Elisa had a stroke and was diagnosed with epilepsy. Since the stroke Elisa has undergone two more open heart surgeries and various other procedures. Six months from now further tests will be done to determine if Elisa needs a fifth heart surgery.
Considering the fact that Elisa is only three years old you can’t help but believe that this little girl, known as Elisa the Brave, is the actual super hero.
When speaking to Nefdt it’s as if a multitude of events in his life culminated in him becoming a warrior for Elisa. Nefdt and his wife Elanza know first-hand the feeling of stress, hopelessness and fear that parents grapple with when first being told that a child may be really sick. The Nefdt’s little boy, now seven months old, was referred to a paediatric cardiologist with potential heart problems shortly after birth.
Frustratingly the family had to wait two months for an appointment with the specialist. What made this wait especially stressful is the fact there is a history of heart disease in the family: Elanza’s cousin, Edwin Smith, who passed away at 31 years old, became the youngest baby in South Africa in 1980 to undergo open heart surgery at less than a day old.
“Those two months were filled with stress and worry,” says Nefdt. “We finally got the ‘best’ outcome we could have hoped for; our little boy was born with a small Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), a condition that should not cause any problems and will correct itself by the age of two.”
Shortly after receiving the happy news Nefdt was with his cousin in Cape Town who told him about little Elisa. Learning more about Elisa and her family, coupled with the ordeal his own family had just gone through, and the fact that he had earlier in his career sold a home to a couple who lost a child to heart disease, meant that Nefdt knew he wanted to do something for Elisa.
Upon learning about Elisa, Nefdt, who runs for the Green Mile Athletics Club in Pretoria East, received an entry into the Big Five Adventure Marathon and knew that he wanted to run the race for Elisa.
“From there it just kinda snowballed into me running in my Spiderman suit on the streets of Pretoria as people go about their morning rush-hour,” laughs Nefdt. “I never thought it would create such a buzz; I love that in addition to creating awareness for Elisa, I am making kids smile every morning, even the stressed-out parents driving their children to school crack a smile when they see Spiderman running in their neighbourhood.”
When asked what dreams Spiderman has, Nefdt says that he is not great at outright asking people for money. He hopes that his running campaign creates enough awareness that people around the country are inspired to contribute what they can to help Elisa and her family, who, he says, have experienced unthinkable levels of stress.
When speaking to Samantha Ingoglia, who Nefdt only met about two months ago, it’s clear that Nefdt’s efforts have been truly heroic.
“The last couple of months have been so difficult for our family, financially and emotionally,” she explains. “Eric [Nefdt] has done so much for Elisa and has really restored our faith in human kindness.”
For Nefdt it’s not about becoming famous or giving loads of money to a cause close to your heart. This people’s person believes that the world will be a better place if we all just do what we can to be kind. “It costs me nothing to run, in fact it benefits me as I become super fit,” he explains. “Why not use it for good, even if it just makes one child’s day to see Spiderman run next to the road.”
He does admit, though, that getting up the guts to put on the Spiderman suit for his morning run was quite a feat. “I wouldn’t say I’m shy or introverted, but it’s not easy. It was quite tough at first actually!”
It is in this same, slightly shy vein that Nefdt admits he has bigger dreams. “If my running garners enough support I’d love to eventually set up a trust to help more families struggling under the pressure of medical bills associated with a sick child.”
As for his running career, Nefdt has great dreams for that too. He has not run a Comrades Marathon yet, and although he enjoys adventure challenges most, believes that he could successfully complete the ultra-marathon tomorrow if he had to, based on his current fitness level, so he will definitely be running in the Comrades in 2017. The ultimate dream is, however, the Drakensberg Grand Traverse. “I’m adventurous and would love to conquer the Grand Traverse; it’s the ultimate challenge,” says Nefdt, adding that he doesn’t yet have sponsors for the race heppening in May next year.
Despite all the big, adventurous dreams you can pick up from speaking with Nefdt, to him it’s all about the smiles. “I love that Spiderman has created some positivity in my community,” he says. “If you see me and smile, reach out to Elisa, or do something in your own little corner of the world to make it a happier place.”
If you want to get involved, or just learn more about Elisa, please refer to her Facebook page Rainbow Promises, where you can read about the challenges Elisa and her family face. You can follow Nefdt’s journey on Spinnekop on Facebook.
If you feel that you can make a financial contribution to Elisa’s road to recovery you can do so via a special trust set up for Elisa: BissetBoehmkeMcBlain, ABSA Bank, Acc number 404 405 8093, Ref number MT3030