THREE Filipino triathletes who qualified for the upcoming World Ironman Championship in Hawaii will be racing for more than just themselves.
William Veto, Gadric Chusenfu and Joseph Palisoc, who will represent the Philippines in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time), have started a fund-raising drive to help build houses on Cebu's Bantayan Islands, an area that was hard hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November 2013.
The three men are hoping that their participation in Kona, considered as the premier event of the world-renowned Ironman series of triathlons, will raise enough funds to help the rebuilding efforts in a Gawad Kalinga village in Bantayan.
An initial 24 homes were built from funds raised by the Ironman Foundation's HUMANITARIAN project, which has raised P3 million since it began several days after Super Typhoon Yolanda tore through the Visayas region, resulting in more than 6,000 fatalities, displacing thousands of families and causing billions of pesos in damages.
The Kona-bound triathletes stressed that they are racing to maintain awareness for the need of the world's continued support towards our nation's full recovery.
“It is true that much help has already been given... But the Philippines has lost so much and the Visayas region need everyone's continued support for full recovery. People all over the world have already invested in the rebuilding of a nation, why stop now? It's just like an Ironman race where athletes take one step at a time, getting much needed support from friends and family or from people they don't even know, until they cross the finish line," the group said in a statement.
Two of the athletes, Gadric Chusenfu and Joseph Palisoc, got their slots to the 2014 Ironman World Championship through a special lottery held for the Philippines by the Ironman organization.
The 52-year Veto, a Filipino-American lawyer based in New York City, said the Kona race is one of the most meaningful in his 20 years racing Ironman.
"It is not the number of times you have raced the Ironman that matters, but rather it is the journey one takes, the heart, sweat and tears that an athlete places into each race the count,” he said.
Veto qualified though the Ironman organization's Legacy Program, having completed at least 12 full Ironman races. The 2014 Ironman World Championship will be his 25th time to participate in a full Ironman distance triathlon.