A Sponsor Runs a Marathon for Sri Lanka Children

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By Himangi Jayasundere, ChildFund Sri Lanka
Posted on 1/15/2015
marathon

Simply visiting a country halfway around the world can be a physical challenge: taking long flights, plus adjusting to different weather and a new time zone. Mark Kirby, a sponsor of a child in Sri Lanka, took this several steps further: He ran a marathon there, raising more than $6,000 for programs supported by ChildFund Sri Lanka.

“It feels great,” a breathless Mark said at the end of the 26.2-mile marathon held in October in Colombo and Negombo. His sponsored child, 8-year-old Shehan, joined him at the finish, and a team of ChildFund staff members cheered him on throughout the race.

“I have a very big passion for Sri Lanka, hence the reason for my decision to sponsor Shehan and the program. Having visited this particular community, I have since my return felt that I can do and would like to do more,” said Mark, a citizen of the United Kingdom who lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He began sponsoring Shehan in 2012; as a hotel manager, he visits Sri Lanka regularly for business.

This was his first marathon, which he finished in 4 hours and 22 minutes, taking 44th place in the race.

“I cannot begin to thank you enough for all your support and generous donations, which will be used not only for an infrastructure development at Shehan’s school benefiting the whole community, but will also be put into education and welfare of these truly remarkable children in the Trincomalee district in northeast Sri Lanka,” Mark said.

This district has experienced tragedy in past decades, including devastation from the 2004 tsunami and 30 years of strife during Sri Lanka’s civil war. Malnutrition, high dropout rates in schools and preventable illnesses are all serious issues affecting children in Sri Lanka, where ChildFund has worked for 30 years.

Mark publicized his cause on CrowdRise, a fundraising website, and wrote about his reasons for devoting time to Shehan and his village:

“Two years ago, I met Shehan. He is young, smart and capable of a great future. He walks 5 km to school and back each day, and where we take all the basics in life for granted, these ChildFund-led projects are the chance for these truly amazing kids to have the opportunity to become someone special. The money collected from this fundraiser will go to all the children enrolled in this area project that covers nine working zones.”

Commenting on Mark’s efforts to help children in communities supported by ChildFund Sri Lanka, national director Eleanor Loudon said, “It’s a wonderful show of solidarity that one of our sponsors has taken it upon himself to raise funds for children benefiting from our projects. We wholeheartedly support him and his commitment to the children of Sri Lanka.”

Mark’s experience is just one example of the places sponsorship might take you. Sponsor a child now.