Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Saturday leads hundreds of participants and volunteers, including very young children, in a day-long multi-sport event meant to raise funds to help differently-abled children.
The fundraiser, called the "6th annual 12-hour multi-sport for a cause in memory of Gabriel," will be staged from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM at the Alabang Country Club, Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City.
The event is held annually in memory of Gabriel Cayetano-Sebastian, youngest child of Senator Cayetano and lawyer Butch Sebastian. Gabriel was only nine months old when he passed away in the year 2001 from complications of a rare chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 13.
This year's sports events include the "Pinay In Action" women's triathlon, "Superkids" aquathlon and triathlon, a 5-km and 10-km fun run, and individual and corporate relays (consisting of walking, running and biking).
Two volunteer-friends of Sen. Cayetano, Maiqui Dayrit and Joey Torres, committed to complete an 'Ironman' distance to raise funds for their respective child-beneficiaries. Their designated route (3.8-km swim, 180-km bike, and 42-km run) will take them in and out of the village to as far as Bacoor, Cavite throughout the day.
Registration fees and pledges for the event will go to the Gabriel Symphony Foundation (GSF) to finance the surgery of indigent children with cleft lip and palate, and children in need of brain and spinal operations. Other beneficiaries include blind and deaf children who will receive artificial eyes and Braille books from GSF.
Since 2004, the GSF has sponsored cleft lip and palate operations for 341 children at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and 133 children at the General Miguel Malvar Hospital in cooperation of with foreign doctor-volunteers who hold annual medical missions in the country through "Operation Rainbow." The GSF has also funded the operation of 12 infants with cleft lip and palate with the help of the Zugbuana Jaycees in Cebu, and 213 infants with the Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro City.
The GSF likewise donated 14 hearing aides to children aged from 4 to 14 years in cooperation with the Philippine National Ear Institute. It also donated 16 artificial eyes to blind children in partnership with the non-government Parents Advocate for Visually Impaired Children (PAVIC).
One of GSF's newest beneficiaries is the Pediatric Neurosurgical and Craniofacial Operating Unit of the UP-PGH. The new facility, the first of its kind in the country, performs delicate operations on very young children with congenital malformations of the brain and spinal cord.
Since opening last April, the new pediatric surgery facility has performed cranial and spinal operations on 124 indigent children suffering from serious congenital ailments like hydrocephalus, encephaloceles, and spina bifida.
Last year the facility received a P340,000 donation from GSF. The fund was used to finance the allowances of its nursing staff and subsidize surgical operations. Improvements need to be done, however, as the facility still lacks air-conditioning, while the instruments are still incomplete and regular budget for personnel staffing still very much depends on the generosity of private donations.