Run, walk and cycle for charity

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A run through the south-western countryside and a cycling adventure in the central mountainous region are among charity events held by expats in the next two months to raise funds for disadvantaged children in Vietnam.

The Saigon Hash House Harriers will hold the "Red Dress Fun Run" on October 3 in the southern Binh Duong Province some 30 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City to raise donations for Operation Smile.

Operation Smile is a children's charity treating facial deformities such as cleft lips and cleft palates for free around the world.

Participants attending the Sunday event, held every year, are required to wear a red dress for the run or walk.

"After a one hour journey out of town, those on board will set off on a 90-minute run or power-walk through the countryside following a trail of shredded paper laid the previous day.

After that, it's time to socialize with a snack and a few beers before the group heads back to town arriving at about 8 p.m.," the Saigon Hash House Harrier website notes.

"It's an enjoyable afternoon and something totally different from the normal day-to-day routine," said Brian Lamprell of Saigon Hash House Harriers.

"Hash is a very loose organization there's no membership fee to sign up if you want to do something different on a Sunday afternoon, simply turn up at the Caravelle Hotel in your running gear before 2 p.m. on a Sunday. Or in a red dress if you want to participate on October 3," he told Thanh Nien Weekly.

On the October 3 run, Saigon Hash Harriers are charging VND50,000 higher than the weekly runs that cost VND1 80,000 for non-Vietnamese and VND100,000 for Vietnamese. The fee will be used as donations for Operation Smile and other expenses like transportation, water, snacks, beer and soft drinks.

"We really support the great work that this not-for-profit group does in arranging facial reconstruction for Vietnamese children who are born with facial deformities," Lamprell said.

"This life-changing surgery uses volunteer surgeons and while most hospitals donate the use of their facilities, there are still considerable expenses, and if Hash can help to pay those, we feel we've made a difference."

Cycling for a cause

In another charity event, the British Saigon Children's Charity will hold the "Charity Cycle Adventure 2010" from November 18-22, covering Thua Thien-Hue Province, Da Nang City and Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam.

The three-day cycling adventure will take cyclists 150 kilometers through local villages near Hue, Ba Na Mountains in Da Nang and Hoi An Town - the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Participants are expected to pay a US$450 registration fee, which will cover all costs of the ride, including transportation, equipment, meals and accommodation, besides a minimum donation of $500 which will go to support Saigon Children's Charity.

The money raised will play a vital role in supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Vietnam, helping provide educational opportunities that they otherwise could not afford, organizers said.

Those interested in participating in the event or contributing otherwise can contact Tom at 0937.000.375 or email cycle@saigonchildren.com.

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