For most people a smile meant a thousand splendid pleasantries, but for some this simple thing can be an awkward gesture towards embarassment.
This is what the Operation Smile, an international organization, vowed to eliminate. Their goals are to give children with facial deformities a chance to put up a good smile and live normal lives though free medical missions around the world.
Here in Cebu City the Operation Smile is once again conducting a medical campaign for children with cleft palates and cleft lips. It is now their 14th year of hosting the mission in partnership with the MARIQUITA SALIMBANGON – YEUNG CHARITABLE FOUNDATION, INC. (MSYCFI ).
Students and companies were encouraged to join the “Operation Smile Charity Run” to help raise funds for the Operation Smile Cebu Mission Year 14 on Feb. 21 at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center. The event was held last Sunday the 20th of February at the Asia Town IT Park. The charity event participated by at least a thousand runners from various schools, agencies, and organizations. Even the conflicting politicians Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama and Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia hang their rivalry and put on their running shoes before sunrise.
I was one of the participants. There’s no way I’m gonna miss that event! Of all people I knew exactly what a smile means down to the very last detail. So I run for the 5K category.
The gun was fired at 5:30am but me and most the runners were already there as early as 4:00am. Man, I’ve never seen such a crowd of runners (ang daming chix mga pre hehe). My heart was touched to know a lot of people supported the cause through running.
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To make it official I finished the race in 30minutes and 50seconds. I ran the whole course non-stop, quite an accomplishment for me actually since its my first official run. But it didn’t come easy for me running out there. The weather was a little moody with some rain showers before the race making the track wet.
My feet already ached just one kilometer into the race (that was embarrassing, need more stretching) . My shoulders complained a kilometer later. During the half-way mark I grabbed a glass of water and poured it to my body just to look cool ala Piolo Pascual (why do runners do that?). Then I grabbed another glass and drank it – my biggest mistake. I suddenly found myself running out of gas with still two kilometers away. My chest ached. But one thing I learned from the 5months of running here in Cebu is to ignore the pain in your body. You have to master them and move step after painful step towards the finish line.. you stop, you lose. So I run the last 500meters like a crazy man just like in the Olympics gave their last reserves for one last surge to the finish line. Where I found the stamina to run that wild, I do not know. True I was aiming for a Sub30 finish but perhaps I did it for the kids. I hope someday they too can have their winning smile and the courage not give up on their selves.
“WE are not only having fun running for this event because at the same time we are supporting a worthy cause” said Roberto Manzano, president of Operation Smile Philippines, during the post race ceremonies. “By just running we are giving a new hope and a brand new smile to our 150 children beneficiaries this year.”
I had a lot of fun that day. And perhaps I’ll take on the 10K next year.