▲ The 11th Jeju City ‘One Heart’ Festival road race gets underway with 500 participants and volunteers, in Jeju City, Oct. 5. Photo by Yang Ho Geun
“Go Hyeong Nam! Go!” shouted people from the finish line. In response, Kim Hyeong Nam pushed his wheelchair with all his strength to the line, completing the course among the last to finish at the 11th Jeju City “One Heart” Handicapped Festival, on Oct. 5 at Halla Stadium.
About 5,000 people attended this festival including 600 volunteers. Three hundred people participated in the road race with 500 entering the walking competition. Three hundred volunteers were on call to help the disabled athletes, carrying out duties such as directing traffic on Jeju City’s busy roadways.
The two kilometer road race is the biggest event of the festival.
Runners and walkers, some with visual or hearing impairments, were accompanied by others in wheelchairs, or with volunteer guides. All were pushing themselves, racing against the clock.
Kim participates in this road race every year. Usually he runs with his helper Bae Jong Ha but this time he wanted to do this road race on his own. It was his personal challenge. When he finally finished the race, he realised the extent of his achievement.
“I feel so great,” was all he could bring himself to say, his face beaming.
“He was stubborn. He has the persistence to stick it out,” Bae said of Kim. “I met him in 1992 as a volunteer and now we are brothers.” Bae works with the Rural Development Administration and in their free time they discuss a wide range of issues.
“It is very easy to make friends with disabled people... if you have free time, you can go to a social welfare office and enjoy time with them just like brothers and sisters,” Bae continued.
On festival day, Yang Yeong Soon operated her wheelchair in the road race rather than her normal day’s activity at a sewing machine. She is a seamstress at Jeju Joongangro Underground Market, where she has worked for the last 40 years, and is a local celebrity.
She won the 2009 Disabled Person of the Year Award for her lifelong service helping other disabled people.
“Earlier this year, I won Second Prize at the Handicapped Badminton Championship,” Yang said. “Every year I participate in these kinds of sporting events. I feel so happy today.”
She did the road race with volunteer Kim Dong Hwan, who works at the Jeju Free International City Development Center. Yang finished second in the road race.
“It was my first time to volunteer for this festival,” Kim said. “It was tiring but it’s very worthwhile and more meaningful than volunteering at other places.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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