Volunteer and triathlete Sergei Levadniy covered 13.3 km swimming, 147,7 km running and 630 km by bike (a total of 791 km) within 7 days. He made a commitment to make the Half Ironman distance every day and fulfilled it. With the help of “7 for 7” campaign, a resident of the Kazakhstan metropolis helped more than 100 children with special needs to get ready for school.
— I have long been challenging myself in sports, but I wanted to combine a personal goal with a socially significant one. I addressed my colleagues from the Shakhmardan Yessenov foundation and together we came up with the “7 for 7” project. The dates were set for the end of summer so we decided to help children with serious diagnoses from a low-income families, – explained the coordinator of the Komanda SOS volunteer coordination centre Sergey Levadniy.
Consulting and media support of the campaign was provided by the Almaty Triathlon Federation. According to the federation’s chief, Galimzhan Yessenov, who just recently successfully completed the Ironman distance in Denmark, “not every experienced athlete would fulfill such obligation taken up by Sergey, but this 23-year-old did it, and most importantly he reminded people that helping is amazing, especially when it comes to children with special needs, whose parents are not able to prepare them for school.”
Simultaneously with the beginning of the sports part of the campaign, the collection of school essentials (backpacks, notebooks, pencil cases, pens, etc.) was announced. Concerned Kazakhstan citizens responded to the campaign And Almaty residents Alexandra Komleva, Galina Kiriyan and Aliya Zhadrayeva organized the fund raising and purchase of school kits. Several Kazakhstan and foreign companies also responded. Thanks to the responsiveness of the citizens, school essentials were collected for more than 115 children with cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, Down syndrome, autism and mental disorders — all from financially disadvantaged families. Throughtout the day of the news publication, the school kits were being handed over to the schoolchildren.
Irina Zhukovskaya, a mom of a 15-year-old daughter Nastya with Down syndrome, said:
— I work in a rehabilitation center. Most of my earnings go out for doctors and procedures. Now we have a lot of children with disabilities in our society. We do out best to have our kids included in the society, not keep them apart and campaigns such as this surely help us in doing so. The matter, in fact, is not in the school essentials, not in the gift but in the fact that a stranger took care of your child. It’s nice to know we have good-hearted people in our cruel world. It’s nice and it’s important.
According to the Director of the Almaty branch of Special Olympics Galina Ilyina, “most of these children from 6 to 15 years are brought up by single parents, there are orphans living with relatives-guardians among them, most are studying in special remedial boarding schools, some others are home-schooled”. It is noteworthy that many of the children, despite their limited physical abilities, go in for sports.
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