New Life Family Walkathon: A Walk for Bright Minds
On Sunday, August 5, 2018, the first-ever East Coast New Life Family Walkathon took place in the country’s capital—Washington D.C—to help our neighbors in the global village. Nearly 2,000 participants gathered on the 3rd Street Gravel at the National Mall—the long, grassy home of iconic monuments—across from the U.S. Capitol Building.
It’s been twenty years since WeLoveU’s Chairwoman, Zahng Gil-jah, began her journey to benefit marginalized populations, refugees of climate change and war, children with incurable diseases and more through walkathons. And now, her seed has taken root and blossomed in the East Coast Region of the United States.
“I’m pleased to see the New Life Family Walkathon contributing to saving life and strengthening unity between family members. I think the greatest power in this world is love.” – Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah
Embraced by the summer rays, members flocked from all points along the East Coast—from Florida to Boston—to participate in this very special event.
Back in May, the WeLoveU Foundation delivered 3,000 solar-powered lanterns to vocational students in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This effort known as The #BrightHaiti Project was created to provide vocational students with a clean and safe source of light. While at the same time act as a tool of hope as they study for a brighter future.
Now, the New Life Family Walkathon is the vehicle to launch the second phase of The #BrightHaiti Project. The next phase involves installing solar panels in vocational schools and donating school supplies. Under the slogan, “Bright minds need bright lights,” the WeLoveU East Coast Region pledges to take the lead in caring for our family members in need in the Western Hemisphere.
A Mother’s Love: The Power That Makes the World Go Round
At 10 a.m., the opening ceremony began with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem accompanied by the U.S. Navy Color Guard. Next, a cultural dance followed and then the President of the WeLoveU Foundation East Coast Region, Daniel Lee, gave his opening remarks.
Mr. Lee began by reminding the participants of the purpose behind their gathering. It’s to make a bright Haiti and for the well-being of humanity, but moreover, he emphasized the unique driving force behind WeLoveU’s activities, which
He said, “The love of a mother is the core to each and every activity, initiative and event carried out by the International WeLoveU Foundation. In this world where individualism is increasing, people in tough times are often left behind in despair. For those with such difficulties, the best solution is a mother’s love. It is only a mother’s love that has the capacity to care for and consider all people of the world.”
Following Mr. Lee, another WeLoveU speaker introduced WeLoveU’s international works to the audience. From installing water pumps, assisting entire communities in the aftermath of disasters to building schools and more, it’s clear the WeLoveU Foundation is busy working all-yearlong—just as a mother gives herself no rest until all her children are cared for.
“I could continue to go on and on about the activities that have been made possible because of volunteers like you. But I mention all these examples as a way to demonstrate that all of us today are making a difference beyond what our eyes can see,” said Rebecca Parker, Vice President of Communications.
Afterward, another representative stepped forward explaining how WeLoveU’s activities and initiatives align with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including 17 goals to fulfill their universal vision of ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. In a nutshell, the SDGs intend to transform the world.
Along the walkway were panels highlighting WeLoveU’s activities that contribute to the fulfillment of these goals. For example, installing water pumps goes hand-in-hand to accomplish the sixth goal of clean water and sanitation. Delivering solar-powered lanterns to vocational students in Haiti helps fulfill quality education and affordable and clean energy.
After reading the panels, members pledged their support to fulfill the goals through WeLoveU’s volunteer service projects. After signing a pledge, they placed a sticker on the world map. It’s because WeLoveU’s initiatives not only impact one region but extend a helping hand to the whole world.
“WeLoveU has been carrying out initiatives, activities, and events similar to these goals for nearly two decades. And during this time, WeLoveU has developed an approach to our humanitarian work that is driven by four major core values: humility, encouragement, love, patience, and sacrifice. In short, WeLoveU H.E.L.P.S.,” said John Casas.
To wrap up the opening remarks, a special speaker came forward—Mayor Dean Mazzarella from Leominster, Massachusetts. Just an hour outside of Boston, the mayor has been supporting WeLoveU’s Clean WORLD activities and spreading WeLoveU’s message throughout the city of Leominster.
He said, “I can’t encourage more to other local elected officials, state or federal officials across the world: this is the organization you want to team up with. The definition of community is WeLoveU Foundation.”
Walking for the Happiness of Seven Billion People!
Around noon, all participants rallied to the starting point for the main event—the walk! After the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the front line, President Lee cued by saying, “Start!” The marching band began to play and the walkathon officially started.
A sea of blue shirts paraded around the 2.5-mile course for the happiness of all seven billion people. All ages from the youngest to the oldest walked together hand-in-hand with their families and friends. And giving an extra boost of encouragement, a cheer team held signs and cheered on the walkers saying: “Don’t give up!” “Shine the Light, Make it Bright!” “WeLoveU!” “Walk for Bright Minds!”
When everyone reached the finish line, a loud ‘hooray!’ resounded throughout the National Mall. It was a meaningful time for all to reflect on the impact of their actions while also realizing once again that all people of the global village are one family. By the early afternoon, families and friends ate their lunches together enjoying the shade and summer breeze.
Through the New Life Family Walkathon, WeLoveU affirms to deliver hope and support to those affected by adversity and misfortune. This can be accomplished with acts of compassion, devotion and