Dubai: A Dubai-based group of athletes is looking to break a new Guinness World Record to save one year-old Hajar’s life.
Dani Afiouni, Mazen Mroueih, Mustafa Mroueih and Nizar Fakhoury are four Dubai-based runners, under the name Omni Athletes, determined to run seven marathons in seven continents in seven days to raise funds for Hajar’s treatment. Starting their triple 7 challenge on February 8 in Melbourne, Australia, they will be running in Abu Dhabi, UAE on February 9 in Zayed Sports city at 10am.
Baby Hajar, who was diagnosed in October 2014 with second stage Wilms’ tumours in both kidneys, is the daughter of Theeb and Rasha, who escaped to Jordan after living conditions worsened in Daraa, Syria. Hajar was operated on when she was only 10 months old since the tumours weighed one-third of her total body weight.
“Since the family has no medical insurance and is unable to afford Hajar’s treatment costs, we need people’s support and donations in order for her to receive chemotherapy and radiology sessions,” said said 34-year-old runner, Mustafa Mroueih. “She hasn’t started the treatment yet since the money needs to be raised first and paid for them to commence.”
Melbourne, Abu Dhabi, Paris, Tunis, New York, Punta Arenas and King George Island are the seven different places in which the Omni Athletes will complete the marathons, each a distance of 42.2km. The total distance that the athletes will run in the week of the challenge is 295 kilometres. Due to the complex logistical and psychological obstacles, the team underwent several months of training to be able to endure the challenge.
“We’ve been training for this challenge extensively for the past six months by running six days a week and doing cross training at least three times a week,” said Mroueih. “We have professional coaches helping us with our training plans. We always revert to sports nutritionists and our chiropractor, Dr Nivine Al Saleh, to make sure our body is perfectly aligned and we’re not building any irreversible injuries.”
The Omni Athletes team is striving to give Hajar the treatment she deserves to win the fight against cancer. Mroueih explained that the idea came to mind when a colleague showed him an article in a newspaper featuring three people trying to complete seven marathons in seven continents in 21 days. He then approached his brother, Mazen Mroueih, and they created Omni Athletes.
“We created the sports team called Omni Athletes to complete endurance races and climbs to raise awareness in order to support underprivileged children suffering from cancer,” said Mroueih.
Omni Athletes have helped two children previously, one of whom is a two-year-old boy named Mohammad who, according to Mroueih, is responding exceptionally well to treatment. They raised funds and awareness for his case last July when they climbed the 4,810 metre high Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe.
The marathon is open to the public and people can sign up online http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/KHCF/OmniAthletes for Dh150 with the choice of running the full marathon, half or even 10km.
Maria Botros is a trainee at Gulf News.