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A Filipino American from North Carolina is running barefoot in Antarctica to help raise funds for Gawad Kalinga (GK). Eddie Vilbar Vega, a member of GK USA’s Heroes Run team in North Carolina, will be the first man to run a full marathon barefoot in Antarctica, seeking a Guinness World Record.
The first official marathon in Antarctica was held on January 28, 1995 and since then there have been at least one or two full and half marathons per year. This year, the 2013 White Continent Marathon will be held on February 25, 2013 at King George Island.
Vega, 53 years old, started running full marathons five years ago. Back in 2007, he started in GK USA’s Heroes Run Team in North Carolina, and his first run was the City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh. But the high from finishing 26.2 miles (42 km) was not enough – Vega was bitten by the marathon running bug, and he hasn’t stopped running.
As of February 16, 2013, Vega has run 66 full marathons and 8 ultramarathons (distance of 50K or greater). Of these, 66 were run using Vibrams, those thin “near-barefoot shoes” with five toes. He has run only three marathons barefoot, but has set the goal of being the first person to run a full marathon barefoot in all 50 U.S. states.
A volunteer and advocate of GK, Vega will continue running to help raise awareness and support the GK movement. Gawad Kalinga is a Philippine-based nation-building movement whose main strategy is to mobilize and engage all sectors of society to work together in ending poverty. It offers a concrete solution to the overwhelming problem of poverty through a community development template that has values-formation at its core and employs an integrated and holistic approach to empowerment with special focus on restoring the dignity and productivity of the poor. GK has built over 100,000 houses in over 2,000 communities in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
In the United States, GK is officially represented by GK USA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in California (www.gk-usa.org). Established in more than 20 areas in the U.S., GK USA promotes wide-range collaborations and partnerships to strengthen the Filipino diaspora in the U.S. and envisions a world where the spirit of bayanihan lives. Loosely translated, bayanihan is the spirit of communality that binds people together.
“I think it is fitting that I dedicate this run to GK, as my first marathon was for GK,” according to Vega.
To support Vega’s cause, click here.
Gawad Kalinga is not a charity, rather, it's an organization that aims to end poverty by building empowered communities. Various countries all over the world are doing their share in making the Gawad Kalinga vision a reality, and you too can be a part of our global army of nation builders! To volunteer for GK USA or to support GK USA's activities, programs and operations, visit this website or contact GK USA Community Relations through Howie@gk-usa.org.