By Harry Sullivan
Principal Officer, U.S. Consulate in Nagoya
DCM Kurt Tong, Principal Officer Harry Sullivan, Julia Sullivan, and Nagoya Political/Economic Specialist Tamiki Mizuno (left to right)
June 19 - "What in heaven's name is a Walkathon?" you may ask.
This wonderful event brought together close to 4,000 people from Nagoya, Central Japan, the United States, and many other countries to raise money for local charities and orphanages. Money is raised through corporate sponsorships and ticket sales. Participants walk a course through Moricoro Park outside of Nagoya, listen to live music, and enjoy good company and food.
In 2011, the organizers generated over 12 million yen in charitable giving, including for victims of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Northeast Japan.
This year marked the 21st year that the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and the Nagoya International School organized the Walkathon. The Walkathon is an occasion to have fun, spend time with family, and make new friends. But its emphasis is squarely on improving the quality of life for Central Japan's less fortunate by supporting local charities, especially those caring for disadvantaged children.
DCM Tong and PO Sullivan show the flag.
Over the past 21 years the event has raised over 100 million yen for Central Japan-based charities. Many of the organizations that have received proceeds from the Walkathon in previous years set up booths during the event so that participants could interact directly with the charities, learn about the good work they do, and have an opportunity to get more involved.
The Walkathon is very encouraging to me because it involves a wide variety of people pulling together to make their communities a better place by helping each other and their less-advantaged neighbors.
While American organizations are sponsoring the event, the Walkathon over the years is becoming more Japanese, with Japanese entertainment, food, sponsoring organizations, and support from local governments, a sign of the event's success.
ACCJ organizers wore Samurai armor and led the Walkathon.
Although Nagoya's Walkathon is Japan's largest, Osaka and Tokyo also organize annual Walkathons, and I urge all of you living in any one of these cities to consider joining the next Walkathon in your area. Doing so is a chance to give back to your community and it's a lot of fun!
- Harry Sullivan