A Northern Irish man who survived a heart attack just over six months ago has committed to running 100km during the month of May in aid of Tearfund's coronavirus relief program.
After suffering the cardiac event in October 2019, Alan Wilson, a freelance Bible lecturer, required an emergency stent operation. But just ten weeks later, the avid runner was back participating in his beloved Park Run event. Then, Wilson heard about Tearfund's "5km A Day In May" which aimed to help raise money for people living in poverty through the global Covid-19 pandemic. He immediately felt compelled to get involved.
Wilson explained: "As a Christian, I understand that a significant part of Jesus’ teaching in the Bible is the command to love our neighbours. During this pandemic Tearfund is coming alongside people on the ground who want to love their neighbours well at a time when resources are scarce. This is a way for me to love my global neighbour.
"I enjoy running, but how much better it is when my running can help generate resources that will make a difference in people’s lives."
The 49-member Northern Irish group is running a colossal distance — equivalent to that between Belfast and Newfoundland, Canada (over 3,300 kilometers) — during the month of May. They are hoping to raise £20,000 for Tearfund, which could assist up to 6,600 families living in poverty to access essential sanitizing products like soap and bleach powder, which will help protect them from covid-19.
Tearfund’s NI Acting Director, Gemma Brown, said: "Maintaining a distance from others and practising good hand hygiene is a herculean task for many of the world’s poorest communities. We are very concerned about some of the poorest countries, where life is already difficult and there is little infrastructure to deal with coronavirus. Living in a crowded household in a densely populated community, such as a refugee camp, and having to walk a long way for water, makes it much harder for people to take apparently simple measures such as social distancing and increased handwashing. These become incredibly hard asks, piled on top of an already challenging daily life.
She added: "This is why we are so grateful to Alan and others like him around Northern Ireland who are fundraising or donating to our appeal: the generosity of the NI public is enabling us to carry out life-giving work amongst the world’s poorest communities."
Another runner participating in the May fundraiser is Caroline Maule, 29, who has committed to doing 5km five days a week for the entire month. If that wasn't hard enough, she'll also be pushing her two young boys in a double buggy.
Caroline told Premier: "During lockdown I decided to start running again and was taking the kids with me. It just felt like the perfect opportunity to do something to help others.
"I didn't think it was going to be as hard as it is. I was an avid runner before having kids, but it is much tougher when you're pushing a double buggy! We are on week three and I'm definitely feeling it, but I'm gonna keep pushing through."
Caroline has covered some 70km since the start of the month.
She added: "The support has been amazing so far, I've had to up my target three times already. So far I've raised £448... my target is £500 but I'm hoping to up that again by the end of this week."
Follow along with the group's progress by checking out the hashtag #5kmADayInMay.