The 5th interview: Shadi Chaaban and Jose Blanco form Panama

“We were impressed by the way ADRA Japan was reaching out to children who were suffering, so we decided to join as a team,” said Shadi Chaaban, 38. Carlos Yevara and Jose Blanco, 59, accompanied him to Japan. It has been 30 years since Mr. Chaban, a Venezuelan, fell in love with running.

“I like cycling and mountain climbing, but the best sport for me is marathon running. I work for a travel agency, and I used to be a smoker because I was stressed at times, but I knew it was bad for my health. I stopped smoking in 2016. I had to get fit, so I started running 20 miles (32.18 km) and 30 miles (48.28 km). So far, I have participated in marathons in Chicago, Berlin, and New York, and this is my fifth time,” Chaaban shared. With his slender physique, he is unmistakably a marathon runner.

“Running a marathon not only makes the body healthy but also the mind healthy. I feel that the act of running toward the finish line without hesitation is also a way of life. Running always makes me feel positive,” Chaaban added, reflecting on the broader impact of his passion.

Chaaban and Yevara are coached by Blanco, who comes from Panama. Blanco’s journey into running began at a young age when his father suggested he try a marathon.

“It’s just good for your health,” Blanco recalled his father’s advice. “It was more for the purpose of getting fit than for competition. In high school, I became an athlete, but I wasn’t at the level to represent my country and compete in the Olympics. However, I kept striving, eventually becoming a Panamanian university champion. A marathon demands daily dedication and a strong mental attitude to overcome suffering. It contains elements that facilitate personal growth. I became a leader at the age of 45. Now, my goal is to spread the appeal of marathon running to as many people as possible,” Blanco elaborated on his journey.

When Franco learned about ADRA Japan’s “Tokyo Marathon 2024 Charity” call, he and his friends decided to raise their hands.

“I like it,” he exclaimed. “I thought the fact that it was an NGO that has been conducting support activities in Japan and abroad for 30 years had an impact on me. I thought I’d like to be a part of supporting education in developing countries.”

ADRA operates branches in 120 countries globally, and the Tokyo Marathon 2024 Charity provided an opportunity for Franco to forge new friendships.

read in Japanese

Charity runner

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