Despite Raft of Sponsors, Public Gives Most to Charity Run

Artiwara “Toon Bodyslam” Kongmalai at the head of a pack of runners earlier this month in Nakhon Si Thammarat province.

Thousands have lined up to hand over millions of baht in cash to a rock star running the length of the nation for charity, more than double the amount private corporations have poured into his cause.

Though Artiwara “Toon Bodyslam” Kongmalai’s run was halted in the 19th day of his run due to an injury that may prevent him from finishing it, he has already raised over 300 million baht for 11 state-run hospitals across Thailand. Organizers said somewhere between 20 percent to 25 percent of that, which would be 60 million baht to 75 million baht, has come from 68 corporate sponsors.

Members of the public have donated 220 million baht.

Sixty-seven domestic sponsors have backed the effort with cash and goods, Patcharin Noosaeng, spokeswoman for the campaign called Kao Kon La Kao (Step by Step) said.

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Those corporate donations range from 500,000 baht to 25 million baht. The largest donor is King Power, with 25 million baht. Donations in this range also come from private individuals.

Although Toon’s body is festooned with Nike logos, the sportswear company has not contributed any money to the cause, Patcharin said.

She also confirmed that the Bodyslam frontman was not receiving any money for the run.

“Every satang, every baht goes to the cause,” she said. “P’Toon does not get any money or was hired for this, I can confirm it. … We can guarantee that Phramongkutklao Hospital is directly receiving all the donations.”

Moreover, she said all team members were people who knew Toon personally and were donating their time without compensation.

“We’re not doing this for a salary. We’re doing this for the common good. Any food or accommodation we get is given to us from people’s hearts,” she said.

Donors can also ask for tax breaks for donations to Toon’s run.

Proceeds from the sale of a Line sticker set featuring Toon, drawn by cartoonist Pakdee “Tai Kai-Hua-Ror” Saentaweesuk will also go to the charity. Patcharin said other sponsors are not creating products to profit from the endeavor. Proceeds from official T-shirts and hats sold through sponsor Lazada’s online shopping site also go directly to the cause, said Patcharin.

Proceeds from Toon’s run, currently sitting at 313 million baht, will go to 11 public hospitals nationwide, including Bangkok’s Phramongkutklao Hospital.

Toon’s progress has captivated the national media since he set out on what was to be a 55-day, 2,191-kilometer run from Yala province in the south to Chiang Rai in the north. Donations have poured in to close the distance to Toon’s 700 million baht goal, from regular win motosai to wealthy businesspeople.

Whether he will be able to complete the run is up in the air after his progress was halted Thursday due to a tendon injury. He plans to rest two days and resume the run on Saturday.

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