When I first broached the idea of having a community pantry for national athletes two weeks ago in my column, I was hoping someone would pick up on the idea.
And fortunately, someone did as the following day, I got a call from Cebuana Lhuillier, informing me that its president/CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier was donating P250,000 to jumpstart the plan.
I also got a short email message from JHL, as he is known, telling me it was good idea and yes, he is supporting it. Not really surprising because for a long time, he has been a major supporter of Philippine sports in softball, basketball, tennis and more.
The first person I called up was triathlon head and former Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Tom Carrasco to ask what he can do on the matter. He did make some calls that, unfortunately, did not get the results we wanted.
That was the time we realized we had to do it ourselves, but with the help of other sports-loving people. I made some calls this time and sepak takraw head and POC deputy sec-gen Karen Tanchanco Caballero, my good friends Nino Sinco, a respected figure in sports science, and another sportsman /patron Alex Wang of Wang’s Ballclub.
Between Tom and me, we had already concluded that we cannot cover all the estimated 1,500 regular and differently-abled national athletes and that we had to go first with the latter as the priority.
The group discussed what we were going to give and categorized them into four—vitamins, sports drinks, energy bars and personal hygiene items.
The next question was how do raise more funds to add to what JHL gave initially. Tom himself is donating P25,000 from his own company Asian Centre for Insulation Philippines. Alex committed 100 boxes of vitamins.
Both Tom and Alex helped me support several community pantries initiated by my former youth members of the Young Journalists Association of Mandaluyong (Y-JAM).
Going back to the Ayuda Sa Atleta campaign (that is the name we decided on), the answer really is to tap other companies and individuals, starting off with Manny Pacquiao, Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation, MVP, Fred Uytengsu, Alaska, national shooter Tac Padilla of Malabon Soap & Oil Company, Rep. Mikee Romero, Nestle Philippines, Gatorade and UNILAB, just to name a few.
And we are confident we will get positive responses once we get solicitation letters out. The target time for us to start distributing “ayuda” packs is by June to give us time to raise more funds for our athletes.
Even as we plan to work wIth the POC and Nationa; Sports Associations, the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Paralympic Committee and PHILSPADA, we know the challenge lies not only in raising funds but in the distribution system, considering that the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and ULTRA are locked down due to the pandemic, while the differently abled athletes are scattered all over Metro Manila.
As a group, we also committed to transparency in our dealings and accounting of funds received. We are doing this for our athletes, not for ourselves.
In advance, we are appealing to everyone for support to this campaign for our national athletes, who have brought us honor in the past and certainly deserve assistance in these difficult times.
For those interested to help, please get in touch with me at 09209241981.
Again my thanks to JHL and Tom for being the initial donors. Good luck to us, now the thought will really become a reality