, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – Last year, nine year old Rita could hardly walk and her mother had to carry her almost everywhere.
But this year is different as Rita was able to join thousands of Mater Heart Run participants as they covered the 10 km route.
“Thank you for supporting me and be sure to also participate in next year’s Mater Heart Run and help other children who have a hole in the heart like I used to,” she said on Saturday after completing the 2013 Mater Heart Run.
Rita was one of 216 children who benefitted from the 2012 Mater Heart Run by receiving corrective heart surgery and Mater Hospital’s Marketing Director Lawrence Muiga is optimistic 250 more children will benefit from the 18th edition of the run.
“Beyond that, we also want to get out to the different parts of the country and educate people about rheumatic heart disease which half of the children we operate on suffer from and it’s caused by a sore throat that is not properly treated,” Muiga explained.
“Therefore if we were able to get to children before they get this rheumatic heart disease, it will make a real difference because a dose of antibiotics costs about Sh100,” he continued.
Ten thousand five hundred children got tested for rheumatic disease in 2012 as a result of the Sh41 million raised by the 2012 Mater Heart Run; the 2013 fundraising target was Sh50 million and Muiga is optimistic the target will be reached.
“I think we are close. The reconciliation happens a few weeks after the event, because a big part of the funds we raise are raised from schools but we are on course because we’ve sold about 50,000 T-Shirts and that indicates for us that we are at about the 50 million mark,” he said.
An additional Sh500,000 has been raised so far in support of the run through the zero-rated M-PESA Paybill number 526300 Safaricom’s head of Marketing Rita Okuthe said. “We’re just a little bit shy of half a million shillings so we are hoping we’ll continue to raise funds and reach our target and you can continue to contribute throughout the year, no amount is too small. We accept as little as Sh10.”
Victor Onsongo from Kisii, George Okoth from Eldoret and Pascal Mwanzia from Makueni took first, second and third place respectively in the Nairobi race with participants in Mombasa and Mumias taking part in the Mater Heart Run for the second time.