Most of the sporting events this year got canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. But runners around the world are still raising funds for Covid-19 relief while observing self-isolation rules. Many sporting brands have also stepped up to support COVID 19 response efforts. Nike has committed more than $25 million, while Reebok is donating $10,000 to support The Movemeant Foundation’s Covid-19 Relief Fund. Adidas donated USD 1 to WHO Covid-19 Relief Fund, on the participants’ behalf, for every hour of activity logged on their apps for a certain period of time.
Many athletes from the UAE are doing their bit for charity. Story of Fitness spoke to two incredible runners from Dubai who have laced up during their mission to save lives. (If you know of any runners running to make a difference, please let us know.)
Meet Dubai Runners who are on a Mission to Save Lives
Eid to Eid challenge for Ahmed Ali
British Egyptian Ahmed Ali volunteers during the day and does charity running at night. He has been volunteering with Dubai Health Authority (DHA) on the frontline of the COVID 19 pandemic since mid-March 2020.
Ahmed recently started the #Eid2EidChallenge. His goal is to raise funds for Al Jalila Foundation’s pediatric treatment program ‘Farah’ to give hope to sick children. Running 5 kilometers for 67 days from Eid Al Fitr to Eid Al Adha is on Ahmed’s menu.
“I’ve been passionate about making a difference and challenging my mind and body. So I thought why not challenge myself 5kms a day to raise funds for a great cause. It just so happened that it was between Eid Al Fitr to Eid Al Adha. I understand that it is a mental and physical challenge. But knowing that it is for a great cause, is what keeps me going. The best feeling in the world is knowing that you are making an impact,” said Ahmed.
Running in the UAE during the summers is no easy feat. Hence Ahmed tries to run either early morning or after sunset. He has called on the UAE running community to join him on this quest. Every day different runners join him for his fundraising run at various locations in Dubai. “I have many friends from different running groups. They are all supportive and keep resharing my posts to encourage others to get involved.”
The #Eid2EidChallenge is endorsed by Dubai Sports Council, Al Jalila Foundation, and sponsored by MonViso and supported by Hopasports. Talking about Al Jalila Foundation, Ahmed said, “Al Jalila has always been supportive to my causes. I’ve always been a great supporter of their work. Monviso Water is also kindly supporting me with their water to keep me hydrated across the challenge.”
Miles for Smiles for Essam Adam
52-years-old Essam Adam has been in Dubai for 10 years now. He is the founder of one of Dubai’s popular running club ‘Run 4 A Purpose’. He started this group in 2016 when he ran ‘Wings for Life World Run’ which happens every year. Participating in that run inspired him to create a group where one could support others. “I started the group in June 2016. It was beginning of the summer, where the weather temperature is 48 degree and humidity is up to 80%.
“You need a purpose to get runners motivated and engaged. In addition to the purpose of improving our health. I created a month-long competition (new concept) during June 2016 to run during the month and donate at the end of the month. It was highly remarkable that during my first month I had approximately 50 runners and it kept growing. We all continued running till Aug. Now 4 years later the group is over 1200 runners.”
Running 4 A Purpose
His club is now donating AED 1 for each kilometer run throughout June, to Al Jalila Foundation to support children’s treatment. “I believe that we should support the community and country where we live and work. UAE is an excellent example of Giving, Innovation, Tolerance. This is the reason I selected the Aljalila Foundation for fundraising because I am also a strong supporter of their message. We created a challenge where the runners record their runs and at the end of the month, each should donate 1AED for each Km they run with a minimum of AED21 (half a marathon). As motivation, they will be given a finisher medal, so far, I have 110 runners registered (only from our group)”
Runners and athletes across the world are using this time to help those in the need during the pandemic and bring a positive change in the community. No wonder, runners from other fitness clubs in Dubai are happy to join in the fundraising challenge. “The runners are excited to take part and continue to compete with one another as it gives an extra motive to run in this hot weather. When I announced it in our WhatsApp group, 110 runners registered, including a couple of runners who are currently in Europe. We have runners who run on average 200Km a month and other 50km a month,” adds Essa. He hopes to reach 10000 km in June
Al Jalila Foundation
Despite the significant challenges that COVID-19 has had on our lives from lockdown to social distancing and a lack of freedom we previously took for granted, it is heartening to see people determined to use this time to do good and make a difference in others’ lives. We also spoke to the CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, Dr. Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, about the determination and kindness of UAE fitness community.
“An active lifestyle is the cornerstone of health, and sports provides a platform to champion healthy living and raise funds to support charitable causes. It is inspiring to see that despite the challenges that COVID-19 has had on our lives members of the community are determined to use this time to do good. Also, make a difference in people’s lives. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so many incredible supporters who use their passion for running to help patients in need.”
Al Jalila Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization for promoting medical education and research.
Click here for link to join Ahmed in Hopasports
Click HERE to read how COVID changed the fitness industry forever