If you were faced with a debilitating disease, what would you do? If you were informed that you had a terminal illness, or had to lose a limb, what would your response be?
Terrance Stanley Fox (Terry Fox) was a sports-loving young man who was only 19 when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of cancer for which the causes are still largely unknown. Upon diagnosis, the only known way to treat the cancer was to amputate young Terry's right leg several inches above the knee.
At the age of 22, Terry Fox established the Marathon of Hope. He decided to run from coast to coast in Canada with the objective of raising $1 from each Canadian citizen for cancer research. Terry Fox had run 5,085 kilometres by the end of his training, in preparation for the Marathon of Hope. This was in spite of his existing heart condition, left ventricular hypertrophy.
Terry Fox began the Marathon of Hope at the Newfoundland coast. He intended to finish in Victoria, British Columbia. Sadly, Terry Fox never completed the Marathon of Hope. His cancer had metastasized to his lungs and he had to stop running after 143 days. Terry Fox died on 28th June, 1981.
But Terry Fox's courage and spirit lives on in the Terry Fox Run, which has evolved into a worldwide event to raise funds for cancer research, to commemorate the determined young activist who died too soon and as a show of solidarity and support for those affected by or who had lost their lives to cancer.
The Terry Fox Run is exceptional in that it has no corporate sponsorship, is non-competitive, and has no winners or awards. The purpose of the Run is to create public awareness and raise funds for cancer research. The Terry Fox Run was first held in Malaysia in the early 1990s, and Malaysians, ever generous, have never failed to show support for the event by participating in ever-increasing numbers.
I arrived too late to assemble with the rest of the participants, but it is never too late to join in the Run! There is no registration requirement. Participants merely have to purchase the t-shirts for RM25.00.
Let’s follow the high-spirited crowd to the Lake Gardens. Participants can skate, walk, run, bike or even ride in prams, if too young!
A capoeira troupe lends a South American flavour to our Sunday morning run at the Lake Gardens.
Leisure boats cruise lazily along the waterways in the Lake Gardens as we jog the final 100 metres to the finishing point.
T-shirts for sale to support the cause of cancer research.
Mounted City Hall officers on horseback to keep order at the Lake Gardens.
Years ago, the cause of ‘cancer research’ would be one that would not rest easily on my animal-loving conscience. Would it entail gratuitous cruelty to animals? Could vivisection ever be justified? Is it ever right to put animals through prolonged suffering? In the last few years, I have come to terms with the fact that animal testing could be categorised into ‘unnecessary’ and ‘justifiable’ testing and research. In addition, since it is always animals with immune responses that are the most similar to human’s that are used in medical research, perhaps advances in cancer research could bring progress to the field of veterinary oncology as well. Also, I am persuaded that cancer research in the last decade or so entails more sophisticated techniques than merely animal testing. Human genome research and human cell and tissue culture testing are all growing alternatives to animal testing.
Cancer knows no political or geographical boundaries. The Terry Fox Run doesn’t, either. Whatever cancer research necessitates, we must acknowledge that more research is required to ensure that cancer can be prevented, treated and managed. Available statistics reveal that cancer causes an estimated 13% of human deaths. The price of inaction is simply too high. For this reason, I salute the heroism, courage and resolve of Terry Fox, who never gave up, who had faith in himself when no one else did. And I salute all the Malaysians who gave up their Sunday morning to run in loving memory of those who had succumbed to cancer, in solidarity with those who live with cancer, and in celebration of the indomitable attitude of a young man who never said die.
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2nd November 2009: Malaysia's Biggest Breakfast, in aid of NASAM
After leaving the Terry Fox Run event grounds, I decided to drop by Bangsar Village to participate in Malaysia's Biggest Breakfast, in aid of the National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM).
The promotional banner hanging outside Bangsar Village.
The event was a collaborative effort by at least 23 food and beverage outlets in Bangsar Village and Bangsar Village II, in which customers could purchase a breakfast set from any of the participating outlets for a minimum of RM15.00.
The breakfast sets were made available between 10.00 and 11.30 a.m. on Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1.
Good Day, Sunshine! A cheery orange-and-white banner festooned with balloons inform shoppers of the worthy cause and invite us in for a cup of joe!
The difference between this event and other fundraisers is that the breakfast sets are fully sponsored by the respective outlets and all proceeds collected from this event will go towards the National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM). This means that the entire cost of the breakfast would be borne by the participating outlet, and all proceeds, and not merely the profits or a certain percentage of the proceeds, would go to the intended beneficiary.
I had the big breakfast set at Bisou Bake Shop, as I needed the energy for all the hours I would be putting in at the SPCA animal shelter later. The service was good, the staff were friendly and courteous, and the food was worth coming back for.
The National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM)
I was gratified to see entire families and groups of friends enjoying hearty breakfasts at the participating outlets in aid of this praiseworthy cause.
Although there will always be detractors who argue that it is better to just donate cash directly to the intended charitable organisation, I believe that fundraising events such as the Malaysian Biggest Breakfast are important for the role they play in raising awareness on the causes they champion, empowering local communities, providing opportunities for the corporate sector to contribute to charitable programmes and bringing families and friends closer together.
After all, merely putting small change into a collection box does not engender occasion for discussion and reflection the way a weekend breakfast gathering would.
I knew I would be feeling peckish at the SPCA later, therefore I bought cupcakes from Bisou to share with the staff and other volunteers. I've never met a confectionary I didn't like!
Very few conscientious individuals would decline to commit one morning a year to raising funds to aid those afflicted with, and affected by, stroke.
NASAM’s long-term mission is to open a centre in every state in Malaysia to provide rehabilitation programmes and facilities for stroke survivors.
For more information, kindly contact:
National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM)
12 Jalan 7/2, 46050 Petaling Jaya,
Tel: 03 7956 4840 Fax: 03 7954 2275
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2nd November 2009: Food Not Bombs, Kuala Lumpur Chapter
The Food Not Bombs KL logo, reproduced with kind permission. The universal FNB logo is one of a fist holding a carrot. This is a localised one of a fist with rice.
When I was still the coordinator of the MNS Green Living Special Interest Group , I was intrigued by the emergent interest our members have on issues such as food security, distributive justice, vegetarian activism, mindful living and how all of these relate to the topic of food wastage , which I covered in two issues.
Recent conversations with my friends convinced me that I should pay Food Not Bombs, a local volunteer-based organisation, a visit to find out opportunities for volunteering and donating surplus garden produce. I first found out about Food Not Bombs KL seven years ago when I started assisting Brian L. with his food collection project to purchase food and provisions for welfare organisations that seem to have slipped under the radar of most donors and sponsors. I was most supportive of the fact that they were uncompromising about serving only vegetarian food to their clients. Vegetarian food is not only better for the environment and human health, but also non-violent and non-denominational.
I knew that Food Not Bombs KL (hereafter, FNBKL) was still serving food to the homefree (we don’t use the term homeless) and other clients at the corner of Jalan Gereja every Sunday evening, so I made arrangements to spend an evening with them. I was lucky in that I had 2 young volunteers to help me at the SPCA in the afternoon, and so I managed to wash and groom the dogs, spring-clean the Cattery and finish cleaning the front half of the animal shelter by 1700 hrs. I washed up, purchased a bag of dukong manis and made my way to downtown KL to share my food with strangers.
At 1800 hrs, a little sidewalk ‘stall’ was set up and the dedicated volunteers started ladling out rice, vegetables and herbal soup to their clients. I closed in, placed my food contribution on the table, introduced myself to Thilaga, Husni and Yew Hun and offered to assist in serving food and doing the dishes.
'Business' was good today. There is nothing left except dregs of Husni’s lovely herbal soup. I did not take any photos of the clients because I appreciate their need for privacy.
The official creed of Food Not Bombs KL reads as follows:
“Food Not Bombs Kuala Lumpur (FNBKL) is an independent, do-it-yourself, non-hierarchical collective consisting of a number of individuals who organize and participate in the collection, preparation and distribution of free food for the city's homeless (homefree) and the destitute.
We believe that hunger and poverty are not necessary, especially in a society which disposes of so much perfectly edible and safe foodstuff out of commercial interest. We save and recycle "commercially-unwanted" foodstuff by gathering it from commercial outlets around town. We will then cook and serve free meals on the streets of KL every weekend.
We do this as a form of protest and also in order to raise awareness to the problems of wastage and unfair food distribution in our society. We also aim to empower the urban homeless & destitute community with solidarity, knowledge and basic living skills.
Help is always needed from you. We are in constant need of your solidarity, donations and manpower to keep this activity consistent and effective. We are thankful for anything which you can help us with, and appreciate your efforts in providing our fellow human beings struggling on the streets with their basic needs which the society at large took for granted.
We all look forward to working with you to tilt the scale back to equality.”
Volunteers and clients doing the dishes together. I was glad to know that as practicing ‘freegans’ and ‘freecyclists’, FNBKL would be happy to accept the plant waste enzyme (as a biodegradable, phosphate-free cleaning solution) that our Malaysian Nature Society members have made a surplus of.
Yew Hun, Husni and Thilaga wish to keep a low profile because they are doing this without any vested interests and without any desire for self-glorification.
Members of our society are always too quick to dismiss our youth as spoilt and indifferent, and the destitute as indolent and unproductive. FNBKL shows us that the way forward is not by passing judgment on others, but by helping one another so that the nation can become strong. As I have always averred, a nation is only as strong as its weakest members. When we exclude and disenfranchise certain members of our society, what we are essentially doing is preventing them from becoming involved and contributing members of our community. This is why we should make inclusiveness as much a developmental goal for Malaysia as having adequate infrastructure and technology.
As I bade goodbye to my newfound friends for the night, I assured them that I would be back soon, and that I would compile a list of the items and supplies needed and disseminate it to MNS members who would be able to contribute.
So come on by if you are able to assist, or have anything to contribute. At FNBKL, everyone is a volunteer, a participant, a decision-maker, a contributor, a client – and most of all, a friend.
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