Dunk Malaria at the LA Marathon… and Tom Arnold
Not only did they run 26.2 miles, but they also got up at the crack of dawn to find parking. We didn’t make it quite that early. When we arrived, the runners were already in place to run the Twenty First Los Angeles Marathon. Among the 25,000 participants were a few friends of ours. We were there to cheer them on and to cheer on the countless other strangers that were challenging their own boundaries, that were pushing their own potential to the limits, that were staring fear and exhaustion in the face. Perseverance prevails.
In addition, we were raising awareness of the Malaria epidemic that takes more lives than AIDS and Cancer combined. As part of the Dunk Malaria concept we set up nerf basketball hoops and allowed people to take a free shot. With each shot, we were able to educate the participants on this preventable deadly disease. Some statistics say that a child dies every 30 seconds from malaria. It is absurd to think that as each attendee was taking one basketball shot, another child somewhere in the world was actually disappearing.
People were very receptive and we were surprised to find how many people actually knew about the epidemic. Malaria isn’t a well-known disease in the United States because its affect is typically felt in countries with higher concentration of mosquitoes. The United States, at one time, did have a Malaria problem, but as the problem has waned here so has the interest in preventing it.
One of the easiest ways of preventing Malaria is through the use of a mosquito bed net. A net can be placed over the bed of a sleeping child and mosquitoes will no longer be able to enter to infect the child. The basketball nets we were using for the Dunk Malaria program are symbolic of the same bed nets.
To our surprise, even sports announcer/actor (and ex-husband of Roseanne Barr) Tom Arnold showed up to take a Basketball shot. Although he stepped closer to the actual basket, and although he took two tries, he did make a shot.
I guess everyone was out doing good that day: Tom Arnold, a few of us who were educating people on one of the deadliest diseases on earth, and 25,000 other people who were pushing their lives to the next level. As we were driving around the marathon course to find our friends, we saw a man with only one leg, hopping towards the finish line with crutches. He would actually finish the marathon in a little over 6 hours. He had completed one mile for every 14 minutes with only one leg.
My friend Jason was running for the first time in his life. He said he did it for the following reasons:
I run to silence the ego, I run because I’m a different person within and without, I run for those who physically can not, I run for those who believe they can not, I run for those who have lost hope…in themselves and others, I run for those who feel stuck in their lives, I run for those who don’t believe they can change, I run because I can.
>> Read Jason’s blog entry:
>> Read the highlights from the 21st Los Angeles Marathon
>> … and read more about our Malaria Campaign and how you can get involved