Wheelchair athlete shares his story on continous support to Unicef Charity Run

Wheelchair athlete shares his story on continous support to Unicef Charity Run

ajmal_samuel_1.jpg

Ajmal Samuel is ready to challenge himself.
Photo: UNICEF HK

The Unicef Charity Run has always appealed to me. As a wheelchair athlete, I wanted to challenge myself, but had never participated in a marathon in Hong Kong. I contacted The Hong Kong Committee for Unicef (Unicef HK) to ask if I was eligible and their response was immediately positive. The Unicef Charity Run became the first wheelchair marathon I entered in Hong Kong. 

This is the first reason I am committed to this particular charity run. 

However, the second is because I believe in what this race stands for: raising funds for Unicef’s global initiative, “Unite for children, Unite against AIDS”. This is such an admirable service and because Hong Kong people are generous in their donations, the Unicef Charity Run is a great way for them to help a good cause. 

There is a third reason, which is much more personal. In 1987, I had an accident that resulted in me becoming a paraplegic – losing control of the lower half of my body. I had to undergo endless surgeries and numerous blood transfusions in England. At that time, most of the blood was not tested for HIV before being given to patients.

In 1992 the American tennis star, Arthur Ashe, revealed he had become infected with HIV as a result of a blood transfusion he had had in 1983. It was then that Britain's National Health Service publicly announced that any person who had received blood transfusions in the 1980s were potentially at risk from HIV and advised all those patients to be tested. 

At the time of the announcement, I was already in Hong Kong. I remember the anxiety and distress I felt when I heard the news. Having HIV/Aids was very taboo then, so I went to a private doctor to be tested.

The month it took to get back the results remain the most worrying of my life. My test came back negative, but I have never forgotten what those moments felt like. Now, a test takes 30 minutes and treatment has come a long way.

Unicef HK is supporting Unicef’s global agenda to achieve a world with no Aids. The charity will hold the 10th Unicef Charity Run this Sunday, two days before World Aids Day. To learn more about Unicef’s vision on #AIDStoZERO, please visit https://www.unicef.org.hk/aidstozero/ 

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