Donations approach B60 million for public hospitals supported by event
22 Oct 2022 at 18:10
NAKHON PHANOM: Thousands of people cheered as singer-actor Pakin “Tono” Kumwilaisak emerged from the Mekong River on Saturday afternoon, completing a charity swim that has raised close to 60 million baht for two public hospitals.
Tono arrived back on the Thai side of the river at 4.50pm after finishing the second of two legs of his swim between Nakhon Phanom and Khammouane province in Laos, totalling about 15 kilometres.
Officials helped the tired but happy celebrity athlete from the water before he walked over to hug his waiting mother. He later went to the activity venue that had been set up for the many people who had turned out to witness the event and support the cause.
Large crowds thronged the Phaya Si Sattanakharat (King of Nagas) ground, the riverfront landmark in Muang district of the northeastern province, to give him an enthusiastic sendoff earlier in the day.
The 36-year-old Khon Kaen native staged the swim to raise funds for Nakhon Phanom Hospital and a hospital in Khammouane province in Laos — under the campaign banner “One Man and The River”.
The day began with a ceremony amid light rain to worship the naga, a mythical snake, at 8am on the Mekong riverbank. The event was joined by Chanchai Kongtan, the provincial deputy governor; Supachai Phosu, Bhumjaithai party-list MP representing the province, administrative officials, civil servants, local residents and tourists.
Tono began his swim at 10.19am from the starting venue at the naga statute to Wat Klang pier, about 800 metres away, on the Thai side. He was accompanied by canoes, jet skis and swimmers for safety.
On his arrival at the temple pier, he was greeted by people who had come to make donations to support his mission. He later jumped into the river again to continue his journey to Wat Phrathat Srikhotabong in Khammouane, a total distance of 7-8 kilometres from the Thai side.
At 12.15pm he arrived on the Lao side of the river where he and his support team rested before embarking on their return journey later in the afternoon.
The charity swim campaign had attracted some criticism and concern for the actor’s safety, but he and his team said they were accustomed to physical challenges.
Two years ago, Tono raised 2.5 million baht for the care of marine animals from his “One Man & the Sea” campaign, in which he and six others swam 82 kilometres in ocean waters off Surat Thani. The campaign had to be cut short because of the Covid-19 pandemic
This weekend’s event has captured the imagination of the public, raising nearly 60 million baht as of 6pm Saturday, according to Taejai.com, the website of a charitable donation project backed by the Rural Restoration Foundation of Thailand under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King. Tono had originally set a target of 16.9 million baht.
Speaking before his swim, Tono said the activity had given him a better understanding about the meaning of sacrifice, giving, and love and unity between Thai and Lao people.
Donations can be made until Oct 31 via the Bank of Ayudhya account: Rural Restoration Foundation of Thailand, New Phetchaburi branch, account number 034-0-04773-2. For more information, visit https://taejai.com/.
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