Beefy’s Big Sri Lanka Walk

 I will be walking in Sri Lanka to raise funds and awareness for work that simply must be done. ”- Sir Ian Botham

Sir Ian Botham is no stranger to Sri Lanka or the Foundation of Goodness having been a staunch supporter since his visit (on behalf of Laureus) soon after the Indian Ocean Tsunami when they recognized the opportunity for a sports based project in Seenigama which could help uplift the region. Since then, Laureus has worked closely with the Foundation of Goodness in developing a state of the art sports academy that has helped countless youth in the region to develop their talents as well as being integral in rebuilding a community once devastated by the tsunami.

Laureus and Sir Ian returned to Sri Lanka in October for another great undertaking. No stranger to the concept of walking for charity, Botham took on the challenge of the Big Sri Lanka Walk to raise funds for the Foundation of Goodness and other Laureus sponsored charities. The ambitious 9 day undertaking saw the walk travel from Kilinochchi in the North of Sri Lanka all the way around the island until it concluded in Seenigama in the South, marking at its start and end points the new venue for development and old stronghold now firmly established.

The schedule was grueling; Kilinochchi to Mankulam on the first day (1st Nov ’13), Anuradhapura to Mihintale on the second, Sigiriya to Dambulla in the Central Sri Lankan highlands on the third day, Kandy to Pinnawala on the fourth day before walking in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s business capital in the western region on the fifth day and then cutting across the island to Tangalle in the South East on the sixth day. The seventh day saw the walk travelling from Matara to Galle in the South and the last leg of the walk on the 8th of November was from Galle to Seenigama.

The walk was undertaken (in part) to help FoG develop Sri Lanka’s post-war North by replicating there (in Mankulam) the FoG model holistic community development model from the Seenigama. Sir Ian himself described the 160 mile walk as his ‘craziest’ undertaking (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-2487770/Sir-Ian-Botham-charity-walk-How-cricketer-raises-money-Sri-Lanka.html)

Through-out the walk Sir Ian was joined by numerous famous sporting personalities who supported the great endeavor with Mahela Jayawardena joining him on the first day, Kumar Sangakkara walking with him Anuradhapura, Sourav Ganguli and Sunil Gavaskar joining him on day four and Steve Waugh, Allan Border and Morne du Plessis attending days 5 and 6. Allan Border and Morne du Plessis returned for the final day of the walk where they were joined by Muthiah Muralidaran.

On the second day of his walk Sir Ian took the time to distribute water bottles with filters attached to 350 young school students in an area identified by the Foundation of Goodness as having high levels of kidney disease due to the mineral content in the water. On the sixth day, Morne du Plessis who captained the Spingboks from 1975 - 1980 and is now a Laureus representative arrives at the FoG sports academy with representatives from Laureus and the IWC to present an Award to young sportsman Hakkini Hasanga. Since Laureus and IWC inaugurated its international art competition 5 years ago the Foundation of Goodness beneficiaries have swept up the main award three times. Hasanga is the latest to receive the award, and have his picture engraved on to 1000 limited edition IWC watches, the proceeds from the sale of which will go towards charity. Young Hasanga was awarded a plaque with an engraving of his picture as well as a laptop computer. Hasanga, along with previous winners Sriyan and Parami were congratulated by Morne du Plessis who encouraged them to “dream of it, write it down, tell everyone and then go out and do it” using Kushil Gunasekera on his path to develop the Foundation of Goodness as a prime example.

Back at the walk which had begun amid the cheering, drumming and dancing of the crowds in the North  and had been encouraged along its way across the island by enthusiastic locals and delighted school children wound its way to a close along streets lined with beaming, flag waving children in Seenigama. At the FoG Sports Academy where it finally concluded, Sir Ian Botham invited his team to explore the FoG premises, and envision it replicated in the North where they had personally experienced the harsh conditions during the first day of their walk.

 Sir Ian Botham’s Big Sri Lanka walk finished on a high, having done a great deal towards raising funds and awareness while also building lasting friendships between the intrepid walkers who kept up with Sir Ian as he raced through the trail, despite the heat and humidity of the tropics. The Foundation of Goodness wishes to acknowledge the amazing work done by Sarah Botham who organized the event, all the generous sponsors who helped make this event a reality and of course, Sir Ian Botham and his amazing team of walkers who took on a herculean task in the name of charity.

Sir Ian Botham crossed the finish line of his Big Sri Lanka Walk on the lush outfield of the Seenigama Oval and embraced Kushil Gunasekera, a man who turns disaster into dreams....











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