Dubai: A British expat and his friends have been running daily since Eid Al Fitr to raise money for a foundation that supports medical research and treatment for sick children.
Ahmed Ali, 32, of Egyptian origin and a Dubai resident for three years, started the #Eid2EidChallenge on May 25. The aim was for a participant to run at least 5kms a day for 67 days or from Eid Al Fitr to Eid Al Adha this year.
Ali and his friends concluded their run on Thursday (July 30). Personally, Ali ran for 350 kms and collectively, the group will log in 3,600kms.
As of Wednesday, Ali said his group has raised over Dh11,000, more than their target of Dh10,000 when they started the initiative.
The money will be donated to Al Jalila Foundation’s Farah program. Farah, which means ‘happiness’ in Arabic, is the foundation’s paediatric program which provides life-saving treatment. The funds raised through Farah are invested into medical treatment and research of children’s illnesses.
“It is our hope to continue these discoveries so that children can live happy and healthy lives,” Ali told Gulf News.
“Through Farah, we spread hope, joy and happiness to children suffering from heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses,” he added.
Run for a cause
Ali started the campaign on social media. He invited his friends to run anywhere and anytime they want as long as they post pictures online using the hashtag #Eid2EidChallenge.
Since May 25, when restrictions on outdoor activities were gradually eased, Ali has been running an average of 5kms daily along Kite Beach in Jumeirah, Dubai Water Canal, Al Quoz Pond Park, Palm Jumeirah or around Dubai Sports City and JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence).
There were times he ran solo but he had a company or two on most days. “The run challenge also got support from friends based in UK, Egypt and Qatar. We gathered at least 50 runners – some have ran daily; others on and off – coming from various nationalities who have participated in the campaign,” Ali shared.
Endorsed by Dubai Sports Council
He added: “#Eid2EidChallenge is endorsed by the Dubai Sports Council as an official event and sponsored by Monviso Water. Runners registered via Hopasports and the fees collected were entirely donated to Al Jalila Foundation.”
Ali gave daily updates after each runner posted their photos on social media with hashtag #Eid2EidChallenge.
Charity in the DNA
Ali described himself as an avid runner, a passionate volunteer and a humanitarian at heart.” At the young age of 15, he has been volunteering his time and energy to make a difference in people’s lives. At 21, he organised ‘Draw a Smile’ in Egypt to help vulnerable children in his homeland.
His latest initiative, however, was not just a charity work. It was also a form of personal catharsis for him. “After 67 days of not being able to run outside due to lockdown, I dedicated myself daily to run for 67 days,” Ali, who works as a construction project manager, shared.
“And because it was for a good cause, I committed myself fully to finish the challenge,” he added.
When asked what he will do once the Eid run challenge is over, Ali replied: “I will keep on running and finding a good cause to volunteer.”
He continued: “I look forward to the supporting various communities and groups here in the UAE. The only time I would ever look back is to see how far I’ve come.”