Hundreds of Rotorua kids took their place at the start line ready to run their very own mini version of a marathon this morning. Among them was one special young man who decided to run the race in aid of a young teacher who collapsed in the final months of his teacher training at Western Heights Primary School last year. Rotorua Daily Post reporter Kelly Makiha caught up with Miles before and after his big race.
Ask 7-year-old Miles Corbett why he's running the Rotorua Mini Marathon to raise money for a former Rotorua teacher to get an unfunded cancer drug and his answer is simple.
"Everyone needs to stay with their mum and dad."
So while hundreds of Rotorua children lined up nervously at the start of the Rotorua Mini Marathon today , the Ngongotaha School Year 3 pupil asked as many people as possible to pay him to do it.
And the money flowed in. So far he's raised about $3300.
All proceeds are going towards a fundraising drive for Whitinga Harris, a young teacher who collapsed in the final months of his teacher training at Western Heights Primary School last year.
Harris has stage 4 colon cancer that's spread to his stomach and he's in a race against time to raise $100,000 for an unfunded drug that will prolong his life, giving him more time to be with his young sons, aged 9 and 12.
He was to start work at the Rotorua school this year but instead he is fighting the cancer with help from family in Northland.
Miles met Harris last year when Harris was helping his teacher Whaia Ruby Grace, the mother of Harris' children, in the Ngongotaha School classroom.
"I thought he was funny, kind and caring."
After his family learned of Harris' plight, Miles came up with the idea of running the Mini Marathon for sponsorship.
"Last night I thought if that was me who had cancer, I would hope someone would raise money for me. I want to help him get the pill that will make him live longer," Miles said.
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The Mini Marathon sees children tick off a card 1km at a time with the goal to run 40km, with the final 2.1km being run today at the event at the Government Gardens.
Miles' mother, Hannah Corbett, said her son had enjoyed training for the Mini Marathon.
She said like most kids, he wasn't too keen on running at the start and couldn't run 1km without stopping, but he had been taking part in Podium Spudruns as part of a group and could now run 3km non-stop and loved it.
She said they had been thrilled with the response for the sponsorship, even getting money from old friends in Australia she hadn't talked to since she was a child.
"A lot of people are really affected by Whitty's story, the fact he is so young and has young kids and I guess when children raise money for things it really pulls at the heart strings."
Rotorua Mini Marathon runners are crossing the finish line.Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Thursday, 2 May 2019
She said she was proud of her son who was the sort of child who hated injustices or when people were sad. She said this fundraising effort had taught him about selflessness and caring for others.
Hannah Corbett will also run a stall at the Farmers Market in Rotorua on Sunday, May 12 with all proceeds going to Harris' cancer treatment fund.
After his race this morning, Miles said he was hot and exhausted but so happy that he did it and had so many people supporting him.
He loved all the people supporting him along the run and was so happy with all the money that was raised.
About Rotorua Mini Marathon
As they jostled on the start line with nerves and anticipation, about 2800 primary and intermediate students from 34 local schools hit their strides today.
as part of the 10th annual event.
In different year groups, the children set off at pace in their bids to finish the final 2.1km of their marathons.
The Rotorua Mini Marathon is an opportunity for young people to have fun in a non-competitive environment while experiencing 2.1 kilometres of the 2019 Rotorua Marathon course in the build up to the marathon event tomorrow.
Cheers and clapping rang out as families and students cheered on their children and friends crossed the finish line today.
Event Promotions general manager Murray Fleming said it was wonderful to see people there supporting their family.
"It's about them [the children] becoming active and healthy, and if we can teach kids to be healthy it will continue for the rest of their lives."
First held in 2010 with just 60 students, the Rotorua Mini Marathon has grown to become the largest school sport event in the Central Bay of Plenty.
In the lead up to the big day, the young participants have been tracking 40km of running by completing a running passport during Term 1. The school students then finished the final 2.1km.
The event is run by Sport Bay of Plenty, Event Promotions (Rotorua Marathon directors), Rotorua Lakes Council and Athletics NZ, with the aim of getting more primary school children involved in running events by giving them a taste of the fun and sense of achievement that comes from participating.