This past March, GiveLight supporters from all over the world participated in the Second Annual Virtual GiveLight Walk. Participants included 71 teams, including 11 teams from the GiveLight homes, with a total of more than 300 participants. This year’s theme was the same as last year, “Chase the Light”, in the spirit of being a beacon of hope through movement for the GiveLight cause.
Getting up and moving for a noble purpose motivated participants to walk and even run. The first place winners walked and ran all together 500 miles, beating last year’s record by over 100 miles! That’s a fifth of the way between Los Angeles to New York (The Measure of Things)!
The first place winners
The purpose of helping orphaned children is one that hits home to participants, many who are mothers raising self-aware and compassionate children (Wazina Jaber, Team Florida Warriors). It all boiled down to pleasing God and serving His creation, as Wazina elaborated. This is prime timing as Ramadan is right around the corner and many Muslims are preparing themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually in the pursuit of God’s pleasure.
Take the example of Ake Pengestu-Weng from Team GiveLight HeadQuarters who won first place last year with a combined team effort of 396 miles. When asked what motivated her to join again, she responds:
We love what the GiveLight Foundation stands for and what they have been doing in helping the children. We did not want to miss out on any event that the GiveLight Foundation had.
When asked how she felt about the overall experience and the competition, Ake replied:
We were excited to participate in helping the great cause through our passions; walking and running…We know two other teams personally, they are our friends and strong running buddies, a few run ultras and a couple qualified for the Boston marathon. So we knew that it would make the competition even harder.
The second place winners
Overall, exercising releases endorphins and helps pump toxins out of your body. It’s a breath of fresh air with walking itself being an underrated form of exercise. However, it became a means for some to connect with loved ones, some citing the outdoors as a way of becoming “closer to our surroundings and to our Creator” (Maria Iman-Santoso, Team Becak Fiver). Participant Wazina went as far as to see this Walk as an “opportunity” to connect with her children, talk to them about GiveLight as an organization, and further the cause of alleviating the burden of orphaned children through her own kids.
By no means was this an easy feat, however. Many participants had a full-time job and had to manage time between work and household chores to squeeze in a few miles a day. Families with children coordinated between high schoolers, college kids, and working parents but still made it a point to participate:
It’s really simple to want to participate. Just think of the GiveLight children. And think about how so little can do so much for them. Knowing you can donate and give back will feed and clothe so many children should be enough motivation for everyone (Wazina).
Members kept each other in check and inspired for healthy competition. Some ran against wind gusts of 30 miles per hour (Ana Brooke, Becak Fiver) while others ran in rain to beat the snow (Rina Morrissey, Becak Fiver).
The third place winners
Wife, Mom, and Grandma Ana Brooke is a superstar with a head start advantage: she’s a runner. Every week, she spends 5 days a week to run and 2 days a week to cross-train, which includes strength training. Ana ran and walked a whopping 125 miles this year alone, a task many half her age will find difficulty accomplishing. The key to her success? Helping others and setting an example, often including her 2- and 4-year-old grandsons in her daily walks.
Participants are already looking forward to a reason to get up and walking with the next upcoming GiveLight Walk and are eager to have others join. Knowing that you could achieve two great things in one effort bettering your own health and furthering a noble cause–made it all the more easier to participate in the walk. Participants hope that next year will be bigger, more competitive, and therefore generate more donations. The excitement for next year is palpable.
While raising funds was not the primary goal for this walk, collectively, all teams raised over $32,000 as they asked friends and family to sponsor every mile they walked/ran. We also had a $15,000 matching gift and over $4,000 in funds from registration and sponsorship. This brings our grand total to $52,000 which will go towards the construction of our new home in Capetown, South Africa.
We are grateful to every walker/runner and every supporter. May the Light embrace you for your kindness and generosity. Until mext year, stay healthy and blessed.
Written by Mahidda Tabraiz
1879 Lundy Avenue,
San Jose, CA 95131