Passing It On

Bianca Buitendag took second place at Snapper, then donated all $25K of her winnings

Bianca Buitendag, the South African goofyfooter who made an impact during and after the Roxy Pro at Snapper. Photo: Joli
Bianca Buitendag, the South African goofyfooter who made an impact during and after the Roxy Pro at Snapper. Photo: Joli

The day after Bianca Buitendag’s first Final ever on the Women’s World Tour, the Roxy Pro runner-up posted this to her Facebook page: “I don’t know about you, but I find myself taking a lot of the gifts and talents I have received for granted. I will be passing my latest privileges on to three non-profit organizations that friends of mine have started in South Africa a few years ago. They are my biggest inspirations. I hope it helps in giving back the opportunities that certain circumstances have taken away. I challenge you to see how far your ‘little’ can go.”

The privileges she’s referring to are the $25,000 she banked with her second-place finish at Snapper. Bianca donated all her winnings, every single dollar, to Aleph Surf International, the Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic, and Life Community Services. When asked why, Bianca credited her faith. “About three days before the final, God told me, ‘When you make the Final, I want you to give it away.’ That was mind-blowing!” said Bianca. “I have never done better than a semi, but He said ‘when you make it.’ I was more stoked about that message than making it to the Final itself.”

“After the contest ended, I decided to donate to these groups because I really believe in their visions,” she added. “I really believe in the people behind them.” Bianca grew up in South Africa surfing with the founders of two of the organizations she donated to, and considers them her biggest inspirations.

Bianca remembers that her old neighbor and the founder of Aleph Surf International, Rehgert Van Zyl, always had multiple boards on top of his small car because he often took township children to surf. Aleph is a non-profit organization that uses surfing, the arts, education, and employment opportunities to improve the lives of those in the community of South Cape, South Africa. They hold surf programs, have mentorship and education programs, and empower local women with skills to make a living. Aleph’s aid isn’t just in South Africa, it extends to Southern California as well.

“Rehgert and his wife, Vanessa, have a house in J-Bay they work from, a whole room of equipment, volunteers, massive ideas, and 10-times as many children joining the program,” said Bianca. “I was really lucky to see it develop like that.”

Another group receiving part of Bianca’s Roxy Pro purse is the Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic in J-Bay. This organization is also close to her heart. “The girl that started the Baby Clinic, Margreet Wibbelink, has a heart of gold,” said Bianca. “When I went to visit, they took me into the crèches in the townships, giving injections to the little ones, and I saw it all firsthand.”

The organization partners with the Department of Health in South Africa to bring professional private medical care to underprivileged women and children. Their services range from prenatal medical care and youth nutrition education, to a mobile clinic and baby safe.

The final recipient of Bianca’s donation is an organization she’s hoping to get more involved with called Life Community Services. The group helps a wide range of people in the area, from at-risk youth to homeless adults, and it is run by a very hands-on CEO.

“The lady that runs it, Aunty Maryna DeVries, puts up massive tents in the townships and feeds, clothes, and teaches so many children,” said Bianca. “She gets in the back of a car and drives around, handing out soup to people.”

As for what she hopes her donations accomplish, Bianca humbly deflected any credit and explained, “I just had the privilege of passing this gift on. I hope for people to see and become more open-minded about what these organizations do, and in the same way, for us to be more grateful with the opportunities that we have.”