AIM volunteers rock!
6 April 2023
Volunteers are vital to the success of all endurance events such as the AIM, and we value and appreciate ours for bringing us this far from where we started. Over sixteen years ago, we set out to produce a beach-to-beach marathon running event that would traverse our beautiful coastline from Ningo Beach in Prampram to La Beach in Accra.
There were (and still are) many physical obstacles on the course we tried to plot, including a lagoon with an enormous pipeline that served as the only bridge to cross to the other side and proceed towards Accra. We stared, amazed, as we watched a bicyclist dismount from his bike and carry it across the pipeline to the other side of the lagoon. We scouted long and diligently to find a way along the coastline to move towards La. There was none to be had.
We revisited the area several times over the ensuing years expecting that infrastructure development, which seemed like a major ambition for whichever administration was in power, would provide a path. It didn’t, and we ended up hoping for future improvement but settling for alternate routes that did indeed get us from the Dawhenya area to La but without the scenic views we sought and knew our visiting athletes, especially, would appreciate.
Almost imperceptibly at first, the route we plotted got increasingly congested with vehicular traffic as well as with numerous hawkers who usurped the pedestrian lanes that athletes could hope to use in relative safety. As the risks to athletes increased, any beauty in the unspoiled greenery of the country-side greatly decreased thanks to man-made structures sprouting up along the route with little apparent regard for the scenery.
Without dedicated volunteers to help with transporting water and related event paraphernalia from our base in Accra to the start line 42 kilometers away, and supporting AIMers with water and other refreshments and first aid, we would not have survived to this point, where the proliferation of clean beaches along the Accra-Tema beach road have enabled us to sankofa2 our dream of producing a beach-to-beach event that will highlight our scenic coastline and the friendly people who inhabit our beautiful country.
Volunteers are vital to an event’s success, but equally true, volunteering at such events as the AIM presents community service-minded individuals with opportunities to achieve personal goals, develop essential employment skills, and, studies show, invest in their emotional health and longevity. Voluntary service is a nexus of community development and leadership development and is an essential ingredient in the resolution of community challenges and the acquisition of leadership skills.
Fully understanding the connection between community involvement and the early development of leadership skills, top tertiary institutions and employers scrutinize applicants’ records for voluntary community service to identify individuals with great potential to bring acclaim to their organizations. In addition to leadership skills, involvement in the solution of societal problems by way of voluntary service provides invaluable work experience for the youth.
AIM volunteers do not get paid; instead, they are rewarded by the pride of helping to produce an event that draws participants from over thirty different counties all over the world and the satisfaction of “giving back” to their community and country. Volunteers have been the proponents of the most satisfying and successful fundraisers we have held.
During our pandemic-induced break from producing the AIM, we donated funds towards the rehabilitation and expansion of a school in a community in Oguaa (aka Cape Coast). The inspirational cohesiveness of the community in supporting the project was instrumental in the extraordinary success of that charity partnership. We will bring you the story behind that project, which was nominated by one of our long-time volunteers, in a future edition of the Race Director’s Message (RDM). Indeed, that volunteer and his two brothers have been with us from the beginnings of the AIM and are the most senior of all our volunteers.
This year, we are pleased to announce the launch of a prize to be awarded in recognition of our first two volunteer medical professionals, Dr. Momodou Cham and Dr. Kwame Darko. They started flexing their community service muscles while they were still in medical school at the University of Ghana, Legon. They helped to provide public health outreach to low-income areas in Accra with health screening and presentations that enabled community members to receive important information on and ask questions about hypertension, diabetes, nutrition, and other health topics.
As if these activities were not challenging enough for students undergoing the rigors of medical school, Momodou and Kwame started Outreach, a public health newsletter funded by the Ghana office of the World Health Organization and designed to promote interest in public health amongst medical students and doctors. Outreach helped to raise public awareness about, among other issues, disease outbreaks, neglected tropical diseases, and non-communicable diseases.
The Cham-Darko Prize will be awarded to young medical doctors or medical school students who exemplify the voluntary community service that Drs. Cham and Darko provided years ago at the threshold of promising professional careers in healthcare. Many more Ghanaian doctors and nurses have participated in the event in some capacity, and we look forward to introducing more of them to you as time goes on.
Though we have met the goal we long ago set for funding the Cham-Darko Prize, the value of our local currency is now such that we must increase the goal in order to make the award more meaningful. Towards that end, we will initiate the fund with GHS60,000 this year and commit to a 3 to 5-year fundraising period to raise the endowment to GHS250,000. The logistics remain to be navigated, and we will work with the relevant stakeholders to devise and implement them.
Please check out our next RDM, in which we will spotlight some of our stand-out veteran volunteers. In the meantime, you can use this link to access our volunteer application.
2 an Akan greeting signaling acknowledgement of the recipient’s hard work or effort
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Announcing our new routes and Venue Sponsor 20 March 2023
Akwaaba dear AIMers, veterans and would-be participants as well. We bade you “ciao for now” about three years ago believing that if we followed the rules and protocols prescribed by public health authorities, we would embrace again within a year, maybe two at the most.
Well, a few false [re]starts later, conditions look promising, current global and local economic woes notwithstanding.
Ayikoo1 to all of us for weathering the difficulties and uncertainties that dogged us over the last few years and that, unfortunately, continue to shadow us in the form of the increased cost of living and diminished financial resources. We have needed the endurance and perseverance of a marathon runner to go the distance and nurture the hope that keeps us planning and training even when no events are in sight. It has been bittersweet to keep in touch with the many of you who informed us of your training efforts even when we gave you the disappointing answer to your perennial question, “Will the event come on this year?”
Well, we look forward to cheering you across the festive AIM finish line once again this October, and we have made some changes to the event that we believe most of you will applaud. Beginning with the siting of the start line for all distance categories: the full and half marathons will now start at the popular Laboma Beach, site of the first successful edition of the Afro Nation festival.
Two major reasons to celebrate this change are that the venue is centrally located and easily accessible by public transport, so no more pre-dawn shuttles to take full marathoners all the way to Dawhenya. The other is that the famed Laboma Beach Resort has stepped up to be our new venue sponsor!
The 10KM start line is a few hundred yards from the full and half start lines, and the 5KM start line is in Teshie-Nungua. The updated route, giving the starting line coordinates is posted under Event Info / Course Information.
The new full marathon route takes us through the key Accra communities of Teshie, Nungua, Sakumono, and Ghana’s major harbor city, Tema, which is of course part of the Greater Accra Region. The half marathon route is similar, except that it heads back west at a point on the Accra-Tema Beach Road, while full marathoners turn east for a considerable distance before heading back west. With the harbor expansion works that have been ongoing for the last few years, all AIMers will get more and better glimpses of our scenic ocean views.
We are especially excited about our collaboration with the Laboma team, whose director is an avid Scout leader who leads hiking trips to as far away as Kumasi—yes, Accra to Kumasi—a distance that would challenge many marathoners! These are the sort of people who understand what drives active lifestyle seekers such as AIMers, and we will work towards a mutually-beneficial relationship that will endure.
Tune in again soon for the next article featuring our new finish line venue and the numerous activities we are planning for your delight before, during, and after your exertions.
Events such as the AIM depend on responsible and experienced volunteers who are interested in serving community and youth development as well as other worthy causes. If you are interested in supporting such events as a volunteer, kindly complete the volunteer application form and/or forward it to others who share your interest.
1Ayikoo: an Akan greeting signaling acknowledgement of the recipient’s hard work or effort
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