World Vision 2014: Running for children's future
MANILA, Philippines – It was 7 am and Commander Arman Balilo of the Philippine Coast Guard, along with two of his platoons, was sharing some laughs at the end of his 3-kilometer race at the World Vision fun run on June 22, 2014.
His troops were looking mighty and strong in their bright orange shirts, their high energy radiating throughout the course.
Balilo put his arms around his wife and beamed at his men.
But if there was anything Balilo was most proud of, it was how far he came with the help of World Vision.
The annual and largest fundraising event, “World Vision 2014: Run for Children,” hosted over 5,400 participants – a record-breaking number for the event.
“We were hoping to at least sell out this year,” said Media Officer Mikhaela De Leon. “Not only did we accomplish that, but also did with time to spare.”
“Awareness about supporting the children is growing, and I am happy because I was once a sponsored child,” said Balilo as he gazed out into the crowd of runners celebrating as they finish the day’s last leg.
Coming from the then-squatter areas of Caloocan City, Balilo first encountered World Vision at the age of 9.
He attended their tutorial sessions, and then eventually attended gatherings.
A few months later, they provided him with a stipend. “It wasn’t much,” Balilo recalled, “ but they provided enough for additional food and materials for our home, which helped my family.”
He was able to attend elementary school all throughout college through the sponsorship program. “I’m a testimony that donated money is not wasted.”
Balilo is currently sponsoring 5 kids himself and hopes that more people can be inspired to do the same.
This year, World Vision’s aim was to turn the fun run into a family event to further advocate the importance of good values and good education for children.
They also featured breastfeeding areas, child-friendly spaces, films promoting good values, and a 500-meter dash for kids – parents were free to drop off their children at these stations while they ran their own races.
Sponsors of children give a regular donation of P600/month.
Many runners were also enthusiastic about the event’s ultimate goals: to ensure that communities receive livelihood opportunities, good education, health care, and community development work.
With the recent string of calamities – the Zamboanga conflict, the Bohol earthquake, and typhoon Yolanda – efforts for relief and rehabilitation are further improved.
Around 20 sponsored children ran the 500-meter dash that day.
“Some fun runs have medals and shirts after the race,” Ice, a 21-km runner, said. “But to me, that doesn’t matter, as long as half of what we pay for goes to something. That’s rewarding enough.”
All proceeds will go to helping 8,000 children under the World Vision Child Sponsorship program. – Rappler.com
Denise Fabella and John Uy are Rappler interns.