The month of December is approaching, so is the season of love, joy and giving. For the past eight years, the Rotaract Club of Colombo Uptown has contributed to giving the season its true meaning as each year the club's signature project, RFTL (Run For Their Lives) took to the streets raising millions of rupees gifting hope to all those fighting the battle of cancer.
With each passing year, the Rotaractors of Colombo Uptown have lifted the bar higher for themselves making RFTL one of Sri Lanka’s foremost charity runs.
Eight years later, they look back on their journey sharing tales of progress, from the relief of gathering 300 people at the inaugural run in 2010 to overcoming challenges they thought they’d never face, as the turnout tops 4000 enthusiastic participants.
With just over three weeks for this year’s run scheduled for the 10th of December, Life Online met a few members of the team behind it all! Getting 4500 people up and running on a Sunday morning is no easy feat. Over the years, RFTL has created a brand for itself that makes all of Colombo gather around in numbers proving the trust that has been placed in the organisers.
Speaking to us, Co-Chairperson of RFTL 2017 Praveena Premakumar shared the same sentiments,
"Each year, people want to join the club after the run, people want to be a part of it, 4500 on a Sunday morning! That's a big deal for us."
We sat down to talk about its humble beginnings. One fine day a few driven youngsters from the Rotaract Club of Colombo Uptown decided to initiate RFTL 2010. Having lost loved ones to cancer, it was a cause they passionately believed in. It wasn’t an idea that was very well received; following a lot of opposition and debate, the team persisted and today we witness what it has grown into as the club donates over 5 million rupees worth of medicine and medical equipment to the Apeksha Hospital in Maharagama.
Having identified the expanding needs of the hospital, the organisers modify the form of the donation based on the requests made and requirements of the hospital. The donation in 2016 has been by far the most sustainable, a complete cold storage unit. Using the collection of funds from RFTL 2016, a very sub substandard storage space that was in use at the hospital has been transformed into a specialised walk-in cold storage unit for medicine.
Groundwork for RFTL 2017 headed by Philip Martil, joint project chairperson commenced many months ago as per tradition. Contrary to popular belief, the event requires approximately a year of planning and brainstorming before it sees the light of day. Philip also added that this is the first time RFTL is organised without any of its founding members, a challenge his team has undertaken readily.
"Every detail is planned. It's all about precision and accuracy. Each year we change the target to hit the bull's eye,"
he further noted.
RFTL over the years has had different additions, the most exciting was the 5th-anniversary celebration in 2014, a night run. A few years down the line, the organisers decided to add a few attractions for the not-so-athletic participants to take a break and enjoy the many games along the route too.
Run for Their Lives has now turned into more than a regular charity run; it has become an inseparable part of the lives of everyone involved in it, teaching them many a life lesson to take home.
“How last-minute challenges are handled; until the last tissue is picked up from Race Course it doesn’t end. I enjoy every bit of it. The entire experience”
Going in order, it was Philip's turn,
"Coming from a very process driven background, the IT Industry, the greatest lesson I've learned is Patience. Patience to keep faith and keep believing."
"I think focusing on the end goal becomes pretty important. It’s not about topping the goal, it’s about giving something back!”
One thing we gathered following the conversation with team RFTL 2017 is that they are driven, focused and most importantly as passionate as anyone can be for the cause they believe in. Why should you wake up early on a regular Sunday morning to be a part of this wonderful cause? Do we really need to reason it out? As Philip very rightly pointed out
"You can live for yourself but the self-satisfaction you feel cannot be mustered into a bunch of words."
Your contribution may completely change the life of another.
Registrations have now begun! Take your running shoes out of the closet, start hitting the gym, the 5Km run around the city of Colombo will be a walk in the park for you.
While you contribute to a truly noble cause you may even walk away with some very valuable memorabilia (autographed by your favourite cricketers too).
Make your way to the RBN performance store located within Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) to register yourselves for the run. Open until 30 November every day from 10 am to 7pm. A fee of 700/= will be charged as a registration fee.
The RFTL 2017 signature t-shirt (designed and sponsored by RBN) will be given away on a first come first serve basis to the first 3500 registrations.
A crowd-funding portal is also available through which donations can be made via a QR code. www.payit2.com/f/rftl2017
All information pertaining to the event is available on www.rftl.lk and on RFTL 2017 - facebook page.
RFTL 2017 is all set to take to the streets for the 8th consecutive year on the 10th of December. Scheduled to commence at 7 am from Race Course grounds, the 5km run will bring you back to a festive mini carnival to end it all on a joyful note. Save the date, you sure wouldn’t want to miss out on this one.