A Race to Cure Children’s Hearts
Numerous athletics events take place in Kenya. The Mater Heart Run is one of them. This event, organised by the Mater Hospital, raises funds for children to undergo cardiac surgeries. The surgery costs about sh500, 000. This is a large sum for most households in Kenya. The programme caters for children suffering from congenital and rheumatic heart problems.
It brings together corporate organisations, families, educational institutions and individuals to raise awareness about the financial burden of underprivileged families whose children need open heart surgery.
The Mater Hospital started this initiative in 2004. It collaborated with Reckitt Benckiser, the company that manufactures Dettol antiseptic, when the run was known as the Dettol Heart Run. In 2007, this event was rebranded the when the Mater Hospital took over singlehandedly, and the Mater Heart Run was born.
The funds raised oversee the surgery and post-operative intensive care of children aged between 6 months and 18 years. Initially, this race took place on the streets of Nairobi. Now, it is also hosted in other towns such as Mombasa, Magadi and Mumias.
This event has grown in leaps and bounds. In 2007, the run had 15,000 participants and raised sh8.9m, which funded 178 open heart surgeries. In 2011, the numbers doubled. There were 32,000 participants and the run collected sh29m, which funded 234 surgeries. The success of this charity event has bagged several awards such as two Marketing Society of Kenya awards for the Best Social Marketing Effort.
Participants have several options. Corporate organisations can sponsor a team or a child, educational institutions can take part as an entity and individual can take part by purchasing the event’s t-shirts.
Most participants take part in the 10km run.