On June 13, 2010, longtime Art for AIDS volunteer Alex Rathy, now working full time in Suncheon South Korea, completed his first marathon on the beautiful island of Jeju to raise funds and awareness for Art for AIDS International.  All of us at Art for AIDS would like to sincerely thank and congratulate Alex for completing this arduous journey and for continuing to be a dedicated part of our organization.  Further, we would like to thank Alex for raising over CAD $500 which we will use to further our work, and the work of our partners on the ground in Southern Africa working with women and children affected by HIV/AIDS.Please continue reading below to learn about what inspired Alex to run a marathon for Art for AIDS and spend some time thinking about what you could do to support organizations working to improve the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS in your own community or abroad.

“Back in the winter I decided that it was time to take these thunderous calves of mine to the next level and started to train for my first ever marathon. All winter I pounded the streets of Suncheon, South Korea (and, occasionally, treadmills of Dongseo Fitness Club) to get ready for the grueling 42-km challenge which lie ahead of me in Seoul on March 17th. Unfortunately, upon my return to Korea from a little jaunt to Thailand in late February (in which I actually DID run on 2/3 of the days, I swear) I became extremely ill, lost upwards of 10 lbs. and was unable to train. Subsequently I was forced to bow out of the race.

After regaining my health I got back into running slowly. Then one day in mid-April, while reading the news online, I came across an article commemorating the 30th anniversary of the day Terry Fox began his heroic Marathon of Hope across Canada in St. John’s, Nfld. After symbolically dipping his artificial leg in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Terry turned his gaze West and struggled to complete a marathon on one good leg EVERY SINGLE DAY in his quest to raise awareness (as well as $1 for every Canadian) for cancer research.

While the pain was surely immeasurable and cancer would ultimately stop his run and, subsequently, his life far too short, Terry never lost the single-minded determination which would make him an icon to the Canadian people and a true inspiration for anyone who wanted to see a little change in the world.

After doing a bit of thinking, and after pausing to recover from the pain this brought to my head, I decided that I should try to do a little something more with my own run. While I knew that it would at the least be a terrific personal challenge, I felt that I could use it as a platform to do some good as well.

I have written this with the hopes that you will donate funds to Art for AIDS International. This is an organization I spent some time volunteering for during my university years, helping out when I could at the downtown London Art Gallery and at numerous summer festivals over a four-year span.

AFAI was founded by current Executive Director Hendrikus Bervoets, and has grown from a project in the basement of his home to a world-renowned not-for-profit AIDS charity complete with its own stunning Gallery which is run by a team of dedicated volunteers. AFAI has worked closely with several charities supporting women and children affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, my good friend and AFAI Youth and Development Coordinator Jp Bervoets, a Master’s student in International Development at York University, is spending the summer interning at Nkosi’s Haven in South Africa.

The goal of AFAI is to raise awareness and funds through artwork to help women and children in sub-Saharan Africa living with the reality of HIV/AIDS. My goal is to torture the hell out of my body and hopefully raise a few dollars for this worthy cause. So please, if you have the inclination, support me, support this wonderful charity (or, conversely, if you don’t like me very much, support me killing myself for 4+ hours) and donate to AFAI.

Thank you so much for your time and in advance for any support you can show to AFAI”.

Cheers, Alex