17 May Franciscan Run for Hope Unites People of Lithuania for Common Purpose
This Pentecost, on May 16, 2016, Friars Minor of Lithuania once again went to the streets of Klaipėda, the third largest city in the country, to join the hands and hearts with cancer patients, organizing the ninth in a row Run for Hope. This year, the number of athletes doubled counting over 10,000 racers joining the cause. The event drew even the elite contestants. A member of the Olympic team, Diana Lobačevskė, expressed her delight being able to take part in such a noble competition.
The morning began with the celebration of the Holy Mass, lead by the Provincial Minister br. Algirdas Malakauskis OFM. The Mass was attended by the Mayor of the city Vytautas Grubliauskas, the Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius, and other faithful. After the Holy Mass, the head of the country’s government fired the starting pistol at the half-marathon line.
Athletes, who came to support cancer patients and in turn raise funds for the St. Francis Oncology Center in Klaipėda, were able to compete in various distances – 21.098km, 10km, 5.6km, 2.9km, and a symbolic 0.6km stretch.
The founder of the Run for Hope, br. Benediktas Jurčys OFM shared his dream, “This year, my hope is beginning to become a reality. I envision that every cancer patient in Lithuania will be represented by a runner. This year’s 10,000 contestants are a good start for the 10th anniversary next year, when we could have 100,000 athletes. This year we could be compared to a river, but then we could become the sea of hope on the coast of the Baltic.”