Writer’s note: The following words uttered by superstar rocker Artiwara Kongmalai, better known as “Toon Bodyslam”, were from an interview about his first charity run, last year.
At the time, he was seeking to help an underfunded hospital overwhelmed by patients. That run led to his current and much longer effort, from Thailand’s southernmost to its northernmost point. This time he wants to raise Bt700 million for other hospitals across the country.
The quotes speak for themselves, so no commentary is really needed, except that this is a very cool way to utilise your fame, your body, your fan base and your conscience. Artiwara’s current charity run has raised something close to Bt100 million and counting, drawing praise from all quarters and inspiring many. Forrest Gump’s quotes are placed here simply to underline that art often inspires life and vice versa.
Forrest Gump: That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.
Toon Bodyslam: At the very beginning, the head of Bangsapan Hospital in Prachuap Khiri Khan asked me to join a fundraising run because he thought that I, as a celeb, could help spice the event up. I have always liked to run so I agreed. Then I visited the hospital and saw that “under-equipped” was an understatement. In-patients were lying wherever there was floor space. The hospital didn’t have even certain basic equipment. So I said to myself, “Will this run get anywhere near enough money?”
Forrest Gump: So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County.
Toon Bodyslam: The point is it doesn’t matter how fast or how far I run. I just want to use my run to send a message that there is this one place that really needs your help.
Forrest Gump: And I figured, since I have run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did.
Toon Bodyslam: The idea is to spread the message as much as I can. There are people willing to donate who don’t have millions of baht or hundreds of thousands of baht. But first, these people must know that their help is needed.
Forrest Gump: For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going.
Toon Bodyslam: I run because this hospital problem is not an earth-shattering issue that can attract massive public attention all at once. This problem is an everyday problem which may seem tiny [to some]. [But] as we talk now, babies at Bangsapan Hospital are waiting to use its only incubator, and kidney patients are waiting for proper treatment as well.
Forrest Gump: And ’cause I was a gazillionaire, and I liked doin’ it so much, I cut that grass for free.
Toon Bodyslam: Organising a charity run can be costly. I have figured out that the only investment [for the cause] should be made by myself, and they don’t need to spend money on food, clothes, medals or tents. But in the end, this is a problem that everyone can help ease. We can tackle it by taking small steps together. That’s the real marathon in my opinion.
Forrest Gump: What’s my destiny, Mama?
Mrs Gump: You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself.
Toon Bodyslam: I never consider myself someone who can do magic. I can’t do this all alone. But if we think that somebody else somewhere is responsible for everything around us, we won’t be needed to do anything.
I would like to do this every year. It’s the least that someone like me can do. That’s the real goal, the real kilometre marker of my life. Having people join me in this makes it feel like Forrest Gump’s group run that included both young and old people. It surely will make me a very happy man.
Forrest Gump: Some people don’t think miracles happen, well, they do.
A young girl’s letter to Toon Bodyslam regarding his current charity run, published on Monday on various websites: “Dear Phi Toon, I have been suffering from depression and I often felt absolutely worthless. Until, of course, I read about what you are doing. It has made me want to live on and do something for others. That will make life truly worthwhile. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”