Rocker Artiwara “Toon Bodyslam” Kongmalai and his actress girlfriend Rachwin Wongviriya, who had accompanied him throughout the South-North charity run, are the centre of the Northern-style morale-boosting ceremony held for them in Chiang Rai province on Tuesday. (Photo by Chinnapat Chaimol)
Donations to rocker Artiwara Kongmalai’s charity run have continued after he completed his South-North marathon, exceeding 1.2 billion baht as he was ceremonially welcomed in the northernmost province of Chiang Rai on Tuesday.
Mr Artiwara, aka Toon Bodyslam, finished the historic South-North run in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai Monday evening, marking a total running distance of 2,215 kilometres 55 days after starting the run in Betong district of Yala on Nov 1. He is the first person to run on the long route.
At the finish line at the northernmost landmark in Mae Sai, the donations reached 1.15 billion baht on Monday. The money continued to come in for state regional hospitals via various channels and reached 1.21 billion baht Tuesday evening. Supporters can donate through SMS, ATMs, bank transfers, QR code and at convenience stores, among others.
Chiang Rai administrative and religious authorities organised a northern-style ceremony to welcome Toon and boost his morale at the Rai Chen Tawan meditation centre in Muang district, Chiang Rai, on Tuesday.
About 10,000 people gathered for the activity. There, Toon received additional donations worth about 25 million.
Toon said the latest charity run was inspired by his previous charity run from Bangkok to Bang Saphan district of Prachuap Khiri Kan province to raise funds for Bang Saphan Hospital.
Before that, he was invited to the hospital for a local activity to finance its new building and he thought a charity run could help gather more support to improve its capacity.
Late last year, he ran 400km in 10 days long and raised 85 million baht for the hospital.
Toon said that later the management of many other hospitals approached him for support and he decided to run on the South-North route to help regional hospitals because the facilities could help many seriously ill patients in their respective areas and nearby provinces.
According to Toon, there are 10 regional hospitals and Nan Hospital was the last to be added to the project because the referral of patients from the provincial hospital to the nearest regional facility in Lampang province took 3-4 hours.
“That means life. With modern equipment, a hospital can save many lives,” Toon said.
Toon also said it felt like a dream when he finished the run in Mae Sai and he felt grateful for the warm welcome and overwhelming support from everyone. “This allows me to accomplish the mission,” he said.