Thursday December 10 2015

25 miles to bring smiles on their faces

By GUMISIRIZA MWESIGYE

It was one of those days, long awaited but when it comes round, you are anxious for no apparent reason. But I had prepared myself well. Maybe not, but in the best way I knew how. A proper meal, eight hours of shut-eye, and no late night TV, and absolutely no alcohol and other substances.
There was need to feel primed up for the run, just as I do or used to do when going for the city marathons.
But this one was different; instead of my feet hitting the tarmac, my feet would be hitting the pedals.

Though it was dubbed the Paul Walker/Calvin Taylor Charity Run, it was actually a drive. The motivation the same; it was for a good cause.
Just like I run 10 kms in the marathons to raise money for Mama kits for expectant mothers or clean water in Karamoja,
I was doing 41.2kms (25 miles, you will know later why I have converted this to miles) from Kampala to Garuga, which is off Entebbe road, to support Kyasira Children’s Home.

What it is
It was really a three-in-one kind of thing, really: Charity, memoriam and fun in that order. To register for the run, one had to pay Shs40,000 for a sticker, a t-shirt and a car sticker. In this way, we were also raising money to buy items for the children’s home. However, that amount was not the limit but the minimum. Anyone could contribute above that amount.
Paul Walker. Is there anyone who is a car fan, enthusiast or petrol head that does not recognise his face and name from the Fast and Furious movies?

Yes, he is the one. Two years ago, he died in car crash, which occurred in California, US, on November 30. The Porsche Carrera GT, he was in with a friend—Roger Rodas—hit a lamppost and two trees. Interestingly, they were coming from an event by his charity organisation, Reach Out Worldwide. There have been a variety of car-related events by fans around the world in his memory.

It seems car fans have big hearts. This was the same with Calvin Taylor, the other name on the bill. He passed away in a car crash around the time of Walker’s death. He is connected to the KFC franchise in Uganda, and some charitable activities, which also benefitted Kyasira Chidren’s Home.

December 5 was the date for the charity run. It was the second such event organised by Miles for Smiles, a group of car fans who mobilise for a good cause. Flash back to my reference to the distance from Kampala to Garuga in miles; it is drawn from the group’s name. It is the brainchild of Avan Singh and Eric Amadi, who run auto garages: Dalas and Avtech. The initial event, Be a Hero on Heroes Day, was held June 9 in aid of Nsambya Babies Home.

The road to Garuga
Last Saturday, we met at Club Panamera in Naguru, a Kampala suburb. The proprietor, Andrew Desh Kananura, also a rally driver, had posted on his Facebook page earlier that he was going to do the run.
He pulled out his newly acquired Mistubishi Lancer Evolution X. And man, did he attract attention.

We were all star-struck, we posed for photos, took a look inside it, said hi to Desh, and everything else.
Between 9am,when we started to converged at the meeting point and 11am when we set off, we got road safety tips, branded the vehicles with stickers, loaded the items for the children’s home, checked our cars one other time and also talked to each other.

Some of us had known each other on social media but not face-to-face.
Slightly, after 11 am, we set off in a convoy, wading through the Saturday traffic in the city and on Kampala-Entebbe road. Up to 40 cars were involved. They included the Evo X, Subarus Impreza WRX, Foresters, Mercedes Benzes, Toyota Noah… generally, any driver with any type of car was welcome. Contrary to perception, it was not a Subaru thing.

Along the way, the persons designated as safety marshals were very helpful in getting us organised and keeping us in line.
When we reached the home, we were welcomed by the nuns who manage it, their staff as well as the children. After a few songs of welcome, there were the speeches from Sr Mary Peter, the home administrator and a representative of Miles for Smiles. Thereafter, we went on a guided tour of the home, interacted with the people there, and delivered the goodies.

Our efforts had yielded Shs1.82m in cash, 43 kilos of beans, 15 kilos each of peas and groundnuts, 15 litres of cooking oil, 50 kilos of rice, 500 books, 576 pencils, 20 kilos of porridge flour, 10 cartons of milk, five of tissue paper. There was also soap, salt and sugar.
The initiative brought on board KFC, Kaliro Sugar, International University of East Africa, Nile Breweries, Duke Water, Desh Rally Team, plus Dalas and Avtech.

Back to base
The way back was the fun part. It was a free reign, it was the opportunity to test your car against the others. The paramount point was road safety for you and the other roads users—that was one of the themes of the run anyway.
But some like yours truly decided to take in the scenery. After all, my passenger was someone who doing this for the first time. I don’t want to “scare” her…hmmm.
Eventually, at varying speeds, it was back to base for awarding of certificates, a recap of the events and more interaction.

dmwesigye@ug.nationmedia.com

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