WALKING IN NATURE FOR HEALTH AND KIDS' FUTURES
By Shaun Bettinson and Kevin Fitzpatrick
Translated by Naomi Lai
Preparations are beginning for Taichung AmCham's second annual KIDZ Charity Walkathon, which again will be held at Taichung's spacious and splendid Dadu Mountain Metropolitan Park. Last year's healthy six-kilometer walk attracted about 250 people of all ages, both Taiwanese and foreign, some accompanied by dogs and even one with a mini-pig in tow. Fine fall weather and the park's beautiful surroundings made this unique community event a recreational success.
Equally important, last year's walkathon was a financial success. Between individual and organizational donations, it raised over NT$400,000, which was turned over in its entirety to Taichung's Hsiang Hsiang Welfare Foundation. Most of the money helped fund the completion of orphans' high school education, as government funding covers tuition, books and other fees for them only to age 16. A percentage also helped pay for a second program, which provides lunchtime milk and juice to over 220 younger orphaned children.
To the best of organizers' knowledge, the 2009 Walkathon was the largest sponsored walk in Taiwan history. Of course, this is no surprise, as sponsored walks are new to Taiwan; the island sees walkathon-style events aplenty, but almost none of them ask participants to solicit pledged contributions in exchange for a participant's walking.
Non-traditional in its approach, the Walkathon relied not on conventional publicity, but rather on people spreading the word to their family, friends, and colleagues -- on invoking "trust networks". Participants solicited pledges only from people who knew and trusted them and receipts, while readily available, were not encouraged, the idea being that the Walkathon should promote and build community through trust.
Mayor Jason Hu's personal endorsement of the Walkathon was pivotal to the event's success. Also key were the efforts and contributions of businesses and organizations including Corning, Kuang Tien Hospital, Morrison Academy, the Hash House Harriers, World Gym, and the Frog Family Restaurants (which provided a free post-walk buffet).
This year's KIDZ Charity Walkathon will finish with live music. We hope you'll join us in November for this new fixture on Taichung's annual calendar: an enjoyable, health-maintaining event that helps secure the futures of deserving young people and, thus, of Taiwan.
Taichung AmCham Information: Contact Administrative Coordinator River Chen at(04) 2471-8133, 0955-038-733, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check website www.amchamtaichung.org