Virtual Relief Run to raise funds for COVID-stricken India
Relief Run will be held over the weekend of 11–13 June, allowing participants all over the world to run or walk 5 km, 10 km or a half marathon at a location and time that suits them. Groups across schools, corporates and communities are encouraged to create an event and support the cause.
Leading the event is AIA Vitality Ambassador and professional endurance athlete Samantha Gash, who is also a World Vision Goodwill Ambassador. Gash, a social entrepreneur and former Survivor contestant, is the co-creator of Relief Run, which last year raised more than $1 million in support of Australian bushfire relief efforts.
AIA Australia will be hosting its own staff run in Melbourne on 11 June, which Gash will lead. The company will also be contributing $20,000 to Relief Run. Other supporters of the cause include Australian AIA Vitality Ambassadors Bec Judd, Sylvia Jeffreys, Laura Henshaw, Steve Hooker, Anabelle Smith, Alisa Camplin and Marika Day, and New Zealand AIA Vitality Ambassadors Dame Valerie Adams and Ian Jones.
AIA Global Ambassador David Beckham will also be encouraging people across Asia to participate.
“The situation across India has been heartbreaking to see. Whatever we can do to help in any way is really important, and I’m proud to support Samantha and this great initiative to raise vital funds and awareness for the relief efforts across India,” he said.
After seeing the profound impact Gash made with the bushfire Relief Run last year, AIA Australia and New Zealand CEO and Managing Director Damien Mu said he was proud to be involved in this effort for India.
“When Samantha brought the idea of the Relief Run to us, there was no question in my mind that AIA should be involved — this was simply about doing the right thing,” he said.
“We have colleagues, friends and family directly impacted by the crisis in India, and I believe it is our responsibility to make a difference however we can.”
Funds raised by Relief Run will go towards World Vision’s COVID-19 India crisis appeal, which is responding to life-saving needs for equipment and supplies including beds, oxygen concentrators, food vouchers and tents for temporary COVID-19 care centres.
Gash’s connection to India is personal. In 2016 she completed Run India, a 3200 km run from the west to east of India to raise funds for World Vision education initiatives. During her three-month journey, she visited some of the country’s most poverty-stricken corners, forging lasting relationships with the families and children she met. With India reporting record numbers of daily deaths, and authorities fearing the worst is still to come, the fundraiser cannot come soon enough, said Gash.
“The scale of the tragedy in India is heartbreaking, but I feel confident the generosity of Australians can make a difference. I think every one of us has some connection to India and is devastated by the ever-increasing scale of loss. It is heart-wrenching to see the endless suffering of individuals and vulnerable communities that are now at even greater risk,” Gash said.
“When Australia was devastated by bushfires in 2020, the global community came to our aid. Now it’s time for us to pay it forward.”
With Australians supporting more than 23,000 children in India and their communities through sponsorship programs, World Vision CEO Daniel Wordsworth said he had faith in the kindness of Aussies and encouraged them to sign up for this year’s Relief Run.
“India and its people hold a special place in the hearts of Australians, and Samantha’s initiative gives us all the opportunity to stand in solidarity with them,” he said.
“We are very grateful for Samantha’s support, and her willingness to use her platform again and again to help others. I implore you to register for this run so we can help the people of India work towards an end to this grave humanitarian crisis.”
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