An Australian Olympic cyclist has finally had the chance to meet a young Brazilian she has sponsored for the last 10 years.
Annette Edmondson was emotional as she saw the girl, named Vanessa, in the flesh.
“We couldn’t see Vanessa at first because she’s quite small and it was crazy there were so many kids chanting and singing,” Edmondson told Adelaide Now.
“Then I saw her and it was nice to see how excited she was to see us, I was okay until I saw her mum and she was in tears and then I got emotional.
“There were lots of kids on bikes so we rode about a kilometre with them to the school and the kids were doing a big performance - lots of singing, music, poetry, dance, martial arts, it was really nice.”
Edmonson had asked her parents to support a child through World Vision in lieu of a 14th birthday present.
She was partnered with Vanessa, who comes from Salvador in the north east part of the country.
Now Edmonson, whose team came fifth in the women’s team pursuit and eighth in the omnium, makes the monthly payments, and stays in contact with Vanessa through letters and photos.
Ednomson went with her brother, silver medal team pursuit Olympian, Alex Edmonson, to Salvador on Friday evening.
“They were really excited by it and had lots of photos with the family that was there,” Edmondson said.
“Obviously things didn’t go my way in the bike racing and I was a bit down that night, but when you get to do something like this and see what an impact you can have by doing something small on somebody else’s life, it’s enlightening,” Edmondson said.
“We didn’t have too much of a look at the housing but it’s pretty basic.
“At the school three years ago the kids would get electrocuted if they touched the wall when it was raining, but now it’s been done up and looks like a really nice location for the kids to hang out.
Annette Edmondson has sponsored Vanessa since she was 7 years old
“Some of the money goes to Vanessa and her family and the majority goes to the community and the school which is a place to learn because it’s all about educating the future generations.
“And a lot of it goes into running social activities and bringing them together.”
It was the first time the pair had met after 10 years of contact
“I was really excited to meet Annette,” Vanessa said yesterday.
“We have communicated for 10 years by writing each other letters and sending pictures but to see her face to face was completely different.
“I was really emotional, really happy, I will never forget this day, it is an unforgettable experience.”
Edmondson became ‘Make Indigenous Poverty History’ Youth Ambassador in 2007 and volunteers in deprived areas.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.