06/12/2017 Interview > Student
A Woman Who Ran in Desert for Charity
Kim Chae-wool (Industrial Information Studies, 2nd year)
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‘Charity run or donation through sports’ is one of the emerging trends to financially support people who are in need of help. In Korea as well, there are increasing number of people choose to express their passion as a way to raise money for donation. One of the best examples was found among Hanyang University (HYU) students, Kim Chae-wool (Industrial Information Studies, 2nd year). From last April 30th to May 6th, Kim participated in Sahara Desert Marathon and succeeded in fundraising over 7 million won (approximately 7 thousand dollars) which was donated to Korea’s first and only children rehabilitation hospital.
Message of Hope Witnessed in The Ironman Triathlon
Sahara Desert Marathon is known as one of the four toughest marathon on earth. (Other three include the Gobi March in China/Mongolia, the Atacama Crossing in Chile and The Last Desert in Antarctica. This year due to the IS, it was held in the Namib Desert.) Participants, or runners have to run total 250km for six nights and seven days without any external support except for water and sleeping bag at nighttime. Other essential equipment have to be carried in personal bag packs which usually weigh up to 11 to 12kg. A lot of people surrounding Kim, her parents and friends worried of her application for this extremely challenging marathon. However, Kim simply had to do as she planned because she had a goal in her mind.
One of the main events that motivated her to participate in this marathon traces its date back to 2015 when she volunteered as a staff in a Korean Ironman triathlon. In a sports competition where a participant has to swim, ride a bicycle, and run a marathon without a break, Kim witnessed a father on the race with his son suffering of a rare disease. “I felt like a hammer just smashed right in my head,” reminisced Kim. What Kim witnessed was a lively scene of a man running with his son in a sports competition which is even hard for a runner on his or her own could complete.
“Even after the race, I wasn’t able to forget what I saw, and decided I would also be the one who can give hope to such disabled young children through my own challenge,” said Kim. Her first grand step was to participate in an Ironman triathlon herself. In the same competition where she witnessed the father and the son, she ran with the goal to donate all the participation fee for disabled children. After preparing for about a year, she could finish the cousrse and make her first donation. “But then, I thought, why stop here? there must be better ways to help more children who needs support,” said Kim.
Even on a Tight Schedule as a Working Student
That idea was the start of the whole plan to run the marathon. In the following year, she encountered desert marathon via Youtube and thought it was the perfect one for fundraising. “Even if it’s little, I wanted my fundraising plan and challenge could raise more awareness of lack of child rehabilitation hospital in Korea,” explained Kim.
Of course, preparing for a desert marathon required more training for Kim and she started to work out day and night even on her tight schedule as a working student. “Before going to work, I went to swimming centers in the early mornings and during lunch breaks at work, I often skipped my meal and went for a run in a park in front of my office. It was actually really tough because I had to go to school after getting off from the work as well,” remembered Kim. Even without a personal trainer or any other professional help, she continued to push herself to a harder training.
For a fundraising, Kim utilized her personal blog which she used to post her workout journeys. On her blog, she explained in a detail why she planned this donation project from the beginning to what contest she is participating. Rewards included hand-written letters on a back of a picture she took herself in the desert. As a result, more than 160 people, including Kim’s acquaintances supported the crowdfunding which amounted up to 7 million won in total.
On the middle of the Hot Namib Desert
As a nickname of the desert marathon can easily tell, Kim did encountered hardships during her seven days race. On the last course of the race, which is called a ‘long day’, participants had to run about last 80km out of the whole 250km. “The last day was the hardest, not only because of the length of the course, but also because of the pain in my knees,” said Kim. Even before coming to Namib, her knees were in a severe condition due to some hard core trainings. “I really wanted to give up because of the extreme pain but I could not give up because of all the supports I have received,” said Kim. After taking proper medication, with strongly clenched fists, she started to run back on track and was able to successfully finish the course on time.
Kim’s first desert marathon race was over, but she is now preparing for her bigger plans, to run rest of the three marathons before she graduates. “I really hope better perception of donation could be spread in Korea. It is not a hard or difficult thing to do, only what people need is courage. Also, through sports donation, people can be healthy while helping people so I wish more people would give it a try,” said Kim.
Yun Ji-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Choi Min-ju
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