Safaricom yesterday officially launched the 5th edition of the Safaricom Athletics Series. The athletics series features a line up of nine long distance races and three track and field events bringing the total to 12 events this year. The telco will be sponsoring the series to a tune of Ksh. 65 Million an amount that includes direct cash sponsorship as well as marketing, event support and merchandise. Other than the races Safaricom Foundation will also hold free medical camps in the areas toured by the series.

Among the events in the series is a race organized by the Henry Wanyoike Foundation (HWF). The foundation is named after its founder Henry Wanyoike a visually impaired athlete. Wanyoike is the world record holder of the 5,000 and 10,000 meters in the Paralympics of Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000 among other accolades and medals that he has won over the years. When Wanyoike was born he could see and infact he started running at an early age. However, all this changed when he suffered a mild stroke in 1995 which made him lose 95% of his vision. He lost the rest of the vision gradually over the next few years. At this point Wanyoike despaired and almost gave up till his mother took him to the Kikuyu Eye Clinic. It was here that he managed to get his life back together and he promised himself that if he made it in life, he would help other blind people.

It was this need to help the needy in the community that saw him start the foundation that now organizes the “Hope for the Future” race a part of the Safaricom Athletics Series. The race is an annual affair that happens on the first Saturday of June every year. Safaricom has supported this race since inception and the donation is mostly used towards the preparation of the race.

Proceeds from the race go towards helping the needy in the society. They have so far been able to provide 400 walking sticks for the visually impaired and 100 wheelchairs. The foundation has also been able to build a nursery school in Kanjeru in Kabete constituency where they also run a feeding program for the kids. They also educate about 8 – 10 good performers in KCPE who are from poor families through high school. Other than catering to material needs, the foundation also takes part in environmental conservation by planting trees in schools, they also engage in motivational talks in schools all year round. This goes to show just how much can be achieved if communities across Kenya joined hands.

Registration for the race is open to the community with the fee charged for registering being Ksh. 100 as as not to lock out anyone willing to compete. However, it has a bias towards people with disabilities. The race is usually 8.3km from Wangige to Alliance Boys. The Wheelchair Race, seniors race (17 years and above) juniors race (13-16 years), and race for the visually impaired are all 8.3km. The veterans race 60+ years, and kiddie race (6-12 years) is 3km.

If you would like to participate in the race click here.