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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beefy Botham to (Charity) walk in Sri Lanka ~ a la Hannibal in Alps

Recently Richard Hadlee was in Bangalore and to the much repeated Q on  best of all rounders [himself, Kapil, Botham, Imran] he did not name this person who hit 14 centuries in his 102 tests and took 383 wickets…. 

Ours is a curious land….. you see thousands protesting for non-release of films, more thousands following political leader of every outfit but not even hundreds for charity activities…….

Hannibal  is the most famed warrior, the leader of the military forces of Carthage that fought against Rome in the Second Punic War. Hannibal, who almost overpowered Rome, was considered Rome's greatest enemy. Hannibal colours the popular imagination because of his trek with elephants across the Alps to face the Roman army. One thing that has often puzzled people is where did Hannibal get the elephants for his heroic march across the Alps ~ as according to researchers, by the time of Hannibal's march in 218 B.C. they had already dwindled to the two species extant today, the Indian, or Asian, elephants and the African ones. Some argue that given a choice, Hannibal would presumably have gone into battle with Indian elephants, which had been used effectively a century before in charging against the forces of Alexander the Great. Indian elephants are not quite as large as the African species but much more easily trained, which is why they are favored by zoos and circuses. It is also the reason Indian elephants are seen tramping through fictional Africa in old Tarzan movies. African elephants are considered ill-tempered.
Charity walks [walkathons] are famous globally [not much in India] ~ as fund raisers where participants raise money by collecting donations or pledges for walking a predetermined distance or course. They are similar in format to other physical activity based fundraising events such as marathons and cycling races, but are usually non-competitive and lower intensity.

Those travelling through the city-suburb of Tambaram cannot miss the hospital ~ ‘Hindu Mission Hospital’ serving the community and excelling by its distinguished service providing high standard of health care freely to the poor and needy especially from rural areas, and at affordable rates to others.  This was started in 1982 and is today a 220 bed institution having 25 disciplines. The hospital is a pioneer in fund raising with many firsts including the first in South India to get 100% tax exemption from the government of India. Remember that way back in mid 1980s [was that 1986 !] a ‘walk by famous Cricketers’ was organized and remember seeing Krish Srikkanth and Maninder Singh among other cricketers walking along the Mount Road – and we contributed in some small measure. 

~ and thinking of charity one cannot miss Beefy the mercurial all rounder and his exploits – of which I had posted earlier in Apr 2012.

The big fella – Ian Terrance Botham was extremely famous in his playing days – curiously he could not see the greenish lawns or the cherry – he was colour blind ! – still he was the most feared all-rounder and could walk in to any team on the strength of either his bowling or batting.  He walked and walked thousands of miles of British landscape in a mission to raise £13 million and more for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. His gargantuan effort in raising money for leukaemia research over the last 15 years has earned him a respect no amount of centuries could. The great personality he is, has passion charitable causes, undertaking more than a dozen  long-distance charity walks. His first, in 1985, was a 900-mile trek from John o' Groats to Land's End. His efforts were inspired after a visit to Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital whilst receiving treatment for a broken toe; when he took a wrong turn into a children's ward, he was devastated to learn that some of the children had only weeks to live. In April 2012, Beefy  again walked  to beat blood cancers in ten cities across Great Britain. Head down, knees angled slightly inward and massive calf muscles bulging with every relatively short, relentless step, the then  56-year-old completed the 13.6 miles of  walk around Cambridge in less than three hours. A real motivation  for his fans.  Organized with military precision, he is known to lead from the front exhibiting his keenness and showing that he is thoroughly enjoying doing that. 

Remember seeing him making a century and taking 13 wickets in that One off Test at Wankhede in Feb 1980 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. That match hit the thick for different reason of Gundappa Vishwanath recalling Bob Taylor given out caught behind of Kapil Dev…

Botham, continues to be in news – now for yet another charity walk - 160km from the north to the south of Sri Lanka which he feels would be his toughest to date.  The eight-day walk, arranged to raise funds for those affected by the 30-year war in Sri Lanka, begins at Killinochchi on Nov. 1 and is due to end at Seenigama. 'It's going to be like nothing I have ever attempted before and it's going to be my most demanding,' the cricket legend is quoted as saying. 

Sure it would a great challenge walking in the heat and humidity but Botham is too strong – mentally. Dubbed 'Beefy's Big Sri Lanka Walk', it will raise funds for projects supported by the Laureus Sports Foundation for Goodness. Daily Mail reports that each day Botham will be joined by cricketers such as Shane Warne, Michael Vaughan, Sourav Ganguly, Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Addressing reporters in Colombo on Thursday, Botham said between November 1 and 8 he will walk from the northern town of Kilinochchi to Hambantota in the deep south through local towns and villages to raise funds so that disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka and around the world have access to vital sports activities. "I will be doing 20 miles a day in the heat and humidity of Sri Lanka", Botham said.

The funds raised from the walk would support over 100 projects in 34 countries and aim to help the poorest children. Botham during his illustrious England career made just a solitary appearance in Sri Lanka. The occasion was Sri Lanka's inaugural Test back in February 1982.  Later Botham was to visit Lanka in 2005 soon after the Asian tsunami and played a key role in the establishment of the Foundation for Goodness project.

Hail the efforts of good persons

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Aug 2013.

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