, NAIROBI, Kenya May 14- Thousands of Kenyans on Saturday participated in the 2011 Mater Heart Run which is aimed to raise Sh30 million for heart operations for underprivileged children.
The run was set up to support over 100 children with heart conditions get specialized heart operations through funds raised from the Mater Heart Run.
Capital FM has been at the forefront in spearheading the event and was led by its General Manager Cyrus Kamau who called on Kenyans to join the noble cause.
"The support we are giving to those children is heart touching. Nobody likes to be born with a weak heart but if you got it, your fellow Kenyans must do something to support you and that is what we are here to do," Mr Kamau urged.
Thousands of Kenyan children suffer from serious heart ailments including congenital heart disease and rheumatic heart valve disease.
Most of these children must undergo surgery or cardiac catheterization for them to live a normal life.
Speaking ahead of the run, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said the firm had committed Sh5million to this year\’s event.
"Our title sponsorship expires this year but I don\’t see any reason why we should not support this initiative for years to come," Mr Collymore said.
Heritage Insurance Director of Finance and Administration Stephen Lugalia said they have supported the Mater Heart Run for the last 10 years and they are looking forward to continuing in the partnership.
"We realised that what Mater was doing was very unique; they were dealing with an ailment that is very expensive to treat and focusing on a vulnerable group – children," Mr Lugalia said.
Others who attended this year\’s run include Police Commissioner Mathew Ittere, Cardinal John Njue, and Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission Director PLO Lumumba.
While heart surgery is available in Kenya, it is often too expensive for Kenya\’s poor to afford, meaning that lives are lost where they should be saved. Open-heart surgery costs on average Sh600,000 per patient.
The Government spends Sh47 billion on health care, which is inadequate to cater for specialized treatment like heart ailments.
The annual Heart Run raises funds for children in need of this type of surgery, and gives participants a welcome chance to donate to the future of Kenya, while enjoying the challenge of the run.
Participants were treated to entertainment by host of Kenyan artistes including comedian Churchill, singers Avril, Myra and Jaguar who kept the atmosphere charged.
Last year, the event raised 25.7 million, providing operations for 210 children shillings.
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