A BRADFORD-based charity is encouraging people to take on a new fitness challenge by helping raise funds for cancer patients, while also aiming to keep people active during lockdown.
The Little Horton Lane-based Imran Khan Appeal Against Cancer (IKCA) has launched its Virtual 5k Challenge, where participants are tasked with running or walking a distance of 5km wherever they are – whether their local park, their region or even their back garden.
Participants do not have to run or walk the entire 5 km at the same time, but must track their steps using a running or fitness app of their choice.
Funds raised will support cancer patients in Pakistan, who may not have access to the same healthcare resources that we have here in the UK.
The IKCA – which was founded by former Pakistani world cup-winning cricket captain and current Prime Minister Imran Khan – does most of its work with Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore.
The hospital was founded by Khan in 1994 and is named after his mother, who herself died of cancer in 1985.
Before it was established, there was no cancer hospital in Pakistan, says IKCA director Iklaq Ahmad.
Mr Ahmad adds that those diagnosed with cancer in Pakistan suffer a “double trauma” because in addition to the “devastation” they and their families suffer, there is no funded organization. by the government in the country providing support to patients, and many cannot afford treatment.
In 2019, Shaukat Khanum Hospital provided free care to 75% of its patients through donations, giving a “little hope” to people with the disease, Ahmad said.
“If you catch cancer in the UK you and your family are already devastated. But we are very lucky in this country to have the NHS. In Pakistan there is no government funded health service – imagine your loved one has cancer, but you can’t afford the treatment, ”he says.
“But that’s where the IKCA comes in – we can’t treat all patients, but we aim to support as many as possible.
“With Virtual 5k, we hope to save as many lives as possible. I have been to Shaukat Khanum Hospital three times, have seen with my own eyes how it helps patients – our work goes a long way.
“Normally the IKCA takes our volunteers on hikes and in groups, but since Covid it’s not safe to do so. But we encourage people to stay in shape with the Virtual 5k – anyone can do it, whether you’re young or old, just starting out or more experienced.
“People can do it however they want – you can do 1 km one day, then 2 km another, for example.
“One of our volunteers, Aliya Darr, recently completed her Virtual 5k. It only took her 45 minutes – she ran, walked and jogged.
“Aliya has actually raised almost £ 25,000 for cancer patients, climbing the Nanga Parbat and Rush Peak mountains, and also through baking, which she is very good at.
The Virtual 5k runs until March 7. Registration is £ 10 and can be done on the IKCA’s page on Eventbrite.co.uk.
“The individual can set their own goals and do whatever they can. Ultimately, everything saves lives,” says Ahmad.
“Although Covid no longer allows us to go for a walk in the mountains, we still have to try and do things at home on a treadmill, or outside locally, to support good causes.
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