, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – About 43,000 Kenyans participated in this year’s Mater Heart Run, which kicked off at the Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday morning, and was also run in Mombasa and Mumias.
The 10 kilometer event sought to raise over Sh35 million to be used to perform heart surgeries on close to 250 needy children.
Participants at the run told Capital News that they had hoped the event would benefit as many of those affected as possible.
“I have never run here in Nairobi and now when they announced this event, I came and hope that it will make a big difference in the lives of the children affected by a heart defect,” said Timothy Mwai.
“I have run because I’d like to help these children. These are the leaders of tomorrow and we have to take care of them and hope that they will get better with the treatment that is being provided,” said Eric Avonde.
“This is my seventh year to participate in the Mater Heart run. I saw one of the children affected by a heart defect and it really affected me. This moved me to try as hard as possible to participate in the run every year,” Peter Kiplagat recalled.
Beneficiaries of the event also said their lives have been changed for the better.
Eight year old Kevin Mwendwa pointed out that he can now play with his friends as opposed to previously when he would easily get tired.
He said that he feels invigorated and participates in all the runs so that others can benefit too.
“My mother was always taking me to hospital and the doctor always said that there was nothing wrong with me. I was also not playing with other children as I was always getting tired very fast. I was found later to have a heart ailment. She was later told about the Mater Hospital by my Uncle who worked there, and the rest is history,” recalled Eric Mohamed.
The parent of another beneficiary said the operation had saved the life of his child and he would be forever grateful.
“I as a beneficiary, am the happiest. It was difficult in terms of raising the money but the Mater Hospital came up and they told me that they would cater for most of the cost and I had to just pay a little money.”
Capital FM which was one of the sponsors of the event took time to sensitise the crowd about the need to support the occasion.
“Capital FM has always supported this (run) under the belief that young people are the future of this country. When we see over 30,000 people attending, we are humbled as an organization and we still continue with our commitment to help this country go to another level,” said General Manager Cyrus Kamau.
A large number of Kenya’s children suffer from cardiac problems that often require open-heart surgery.
While this surgery is available in Kenya, it is often too expensive for the poor to afford, meaning that lives are lost when they can be saved.
The Mater Heart Run raises funds for children in need of heart surgery, and gives participants a chance to donate to the future of Kenya, while enjoying the challenges of the run.
The program seeks sponsorship through corporate bodies, schools and public participation, with each surgery costing about Sh500,000- 600,000.
Cardiac complications in children are brought about by either congenital heart disease or rheumatic disease.
Rheumatic heart disease is acquired through a persistent but neglected sore throat and parents are encouraged to ensure their children acquire medical treatment for the same.