This year’s Vodafone Malta Marathon saw over 4,000 applications, and dozens of different reasons for embarking on this difficult but rewarding endeavour. With so many good causes to run for, here are five inspirational stories from this year’s marathon.
1. Johanna Galea
Photo by Alan Falzon
Johanna Galea suffered from a mysterious chronic illness that saw her go from a happy newlywed athlete in 2014 to being housebound and able to eat only eight different foods in 2015. Through what is known as The Dynamic Neural Retraining System, or DNRS, she has managed to recover, and this year, the Malta Marathon meant her giving something back.
“I still can’t quite believe that I’ve recovered so fully that I can run 21.1km and I can’t wait to be back on the start of one of my favourite races after all this time,” Johanna wrote earlier last week. Instead of aiming for a particular time, she ran to raise awareness for Hospice Malta as Murphy, covered literally head to toe in pink.
2. Marie Medawar
Marie’s son Charlie was born on the 17th of August 2016, on the same day that five-year-old Omran was famously photographed in an ambulance in Aleppo. Maria comes from a large family of different cultures and religions, from Catholic and Protestant to Muslim and Jewish. In her own words, “in that waiting room, difference was celebrated because it brought us Charlie, yet outside, difference dominates political rhetoric as a corrupt excuse to justify conflict.”
This year, Marie ran the marathon for UNICEF Australia because she wanted to raise funds for Syrian children, with the initial goal being €1,708 (after Charlie’s birthday). Eventually, she ended up raising an impressive €3,250.
3. Jenny Cefai
One of Jenny’s friends was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. After the shock that Jenny and her group inevitably got at the news, she decided to take part in the marathon for the fourth year. This year, however, she ran to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Malta, accepting her limitations but doing her very best.
“I am by no means the fastest runner, nor the fittest, and definitely the one most likely to be grumbling about being up too early that Sunday morning,” she admitted. “However, this goes way beyond that, and if my participation can contribute in the smallest way, then it’s all worthwhile.”
Five weeks before the marathon kicked off, Jenny’s initiative was joined by three other people—Sonia Silvio, Alexia Gatt and Tina Camilleri—and the fundraiser ended up reaching and exceeding their €2,000 goal.
On the day, Jenny ended up running the half-marathon with a pretty big injury, and even got another one along the way. And yet, she still managed to cross the line and raise the necessary funds for MS.
4. Michio Endo
Michio Endo became the Air Malta representative in Japan in 1985. In 2008, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, expecting to die in between six and 18 months. He was later also diagnosed with stomach and bladder cancer.
Nine years later, Endo turned 80 last November, and he took his determination and willpower to a whole new level yesterday by walking through the Malta Marathon.
“I firmly believe it is important to have willpower, physical strength and courage to win three cancers,” he said. “My brother was not as lucky and he died from the same cancer. He went to heaven in my place, so I Must live for him.”
5. Noel Cacciottolo
“Once I’ve been constrained to a wheelchair, I don’t look at the things that I can’t do,” Noel said. “I focus more on the things I can do. Life has to keep on going.” He already ran marathons before, and this year, he returned to the half-marathon in aid of Inspire. Team Noel quickly gathered traction online, and as he himself said, this marathon was only the beginning.