Run raises funds for COVID-stricken India: Melbourne Ultramarathon Runner urges runners from around the world to join the global event

World Vision Goodwill Ambassador and professional endurance athlete Samantha Gash will lead a global relief run to raise lifesaving funds for the people of India devastated by COVID-19. The running star has been moved to respond as the second wave rips through a fragile health system and cases surge past 23 million, leaving vulnerable communities most at risk. Relief Run will be held over the weekend of June 11,12 and 13 and will be a virtual run allowing participants all over the world to run (or walk) 5km, 10km or half a marathon at a location and time that suits them.

Groups across schools, corporates and communities are encouraged to create an event and support the cause. All funds raised will go towards the World Vision’s COVID-19 India crisis appeal, which is responding to lifesaving needs for equipment and supplies including beds, oxygen concentrators, food vouchers and tents for temporary COVID-19 care centres. Samantha, a social entrepreneur and former Survivor contestant, is the co-creator of Relief Run, which last year raised more than $1 million in support of Australian bushfire relief efforts. Samantha’s connection to India is personal. In 2016 she completed Run India, an incredible 3200km run from the west to east of India to raise funds for World Vision education initiatives. During her three-month journey, she visited some of the country’s most poverty-stricken corners, forging lasting relationships with the families and children she met.
That same year Samantha was also selected as a delegate for the 2016 Australia India Youth Dialogue which brought together young Australian and Indian leaders in a forum held in India to discuss various issues significant to the Australia-India relationship.

With India reporting a record number of daily deaths this week, and authorities fearing the worst is still to come, the fundraiser cannot come soon enough, said Samantha. “The scale of the tragedy in India is heartbreaking, but I feel confident the generosity of runners from around the world can make a difference,” she said. “I think every one of us has some connection to India and is devastated by the ever-increasing scale of loss. It is heart-wrenching to see the endless suffering of individuals and vulnerable communities that are now at even greater risk,” Samantha said. “When Australia was devastated by bushfires in 2020, the global community came to our aid. Now it’s time for us to pay it forward.” World Vision is working in some of India’s worst-hit areas and has significantly boosted its response due to urgent and escalating lifesaving needs.

The COVID-19 death toll in India is now more than 250,000, yet experts fear the official number is a gross underestimate. With Australians supporting more than 23,000 children in India and their communities through sponsorship programs, World Vision Australian Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Wordsworth, said he had faith in the kindness of Aussies, and encouraged them to sign up for this year’s Relief Run. “India and its people hold a special place in the hearts of Australians, and Samantha’s initiative gives us all the opportunity to stand in solidarity with them,” he said. “We are very grateful for Samantha’s support, and her willingness to use her platform again and again to help others. “I implore you to register for this run so we can help the people of India work towards an end to this grave humanitarian crisis.”

Relief Run is partnering with life, health and wellbeing insurer AIA Australia to help stage the fundraiser in cities and towns across the nation. After seeing the profound impact Samantha made with the bushfire Relief Run last year, AIA Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive and Managing Director, Damien Mu, said he was proud to be involved in this effort for India. “When Samantha brought the idea of the Relief Run to us, there was no question in my mind that AIA should be involved – this was simply about doing the right thing,” he said. “We have colleagues, friends and family directly impacted by the crisis in India, and I believe it is our responsibility to make a difference however we can.”

AIA Australia have the support of all of their AIA Vitality ambassadors across Austalia and New Zealand to spread the event and take part in runs over the June 11 – 13 weekend. Including Shane Crawford, Bec & Chriss Judd, Laura Henshaw, Alisa Camplin and Tim Jarvis. To find out how you can participate go to www.reliefrun.com.au or to donate to World Vision’s COVID-19 India crisis appeal go to www.worldvision.com.au/end-corona-for-India.
If you are a corporate, school or community group and would like to set up a team, contact us on Info@reliefrun.com.au. 

For more information contact Charmaine Waduge  on  0433 903 503  or  charmaine.waduge@worldvision.com.au