Record number of registered participants at this year's Milky Way Race
Twelve days until the start and 3.400 participants applied
Zagreb, 25 August 2020 – Due to special measures, the fourth UNICEF humanitarian race, the Milky Way, will this year be held virtually but also nationally, with a record number of participants already registered for the race 12 days before the start . So far, more than 3.400 applications have been received, and in the coming days, more participants are expected to join in collecting donations and kilometers from 5th to 20th September to support children with disabilities. UNICEF will invest the raised funds in equipping sensory rooms and training experts who will carry out sensory integration therapies for children with disabilities.
Individuals, families with children, companies and teams can collect their kilometers through the mobile app by running, walking, riding in a wheelchair, cycling or in any other way. Currently 1 in 8 of children with disabilities use early intervention services, which are crucial for them to develop their skills and participate in everyday life, tell their parents how they feel, play with friends, go to kindergarten, school and build their future.
Apart from being virtual and national, this year's Milky Way is special in many other ways, and there are plenty of original ideas for participation. So far, more than 400 children and their families and 9 associations that work with children with disabilities have registered, and the race has been recognized by 32 companies which registered their teams. The participants include a girl in a wheelchair who is participating in the race for the third time, a grandfather who runs with his grandchildren and a lady who will surprise the children from her building with start kits. In addition, some of our participants love the Milky Way so much that they will celebrate their birthdays with friends by participating in the race, and one Voluntary Fire Brigade will mark its 130th birthday at the Milky Way.
“The Milky Way will for the first time be held virtually. This will allow us all, united by positive energy and a sense of hope and togetherness, no matter where we are, and what we do, to participate and support children with disabilities. This year more than ever before we have the opportunity to show the true power of the Milky Way: we can all be the stars, while the real winners are always children. We are delighted with the interest of people from all over Croatia, and of different age groups, whom we managed to gather in these challenging times around an important common goal - to provide the necessary support for every child to reach his or her full potential. We want to make our race as inclusive as possible and we are especially happy that it will be attended by many children and adults with disabilities, Paralympians, but also parents, caregivers, professionals, associations and others who strive to make children's lives better every day“, said Regina M. Castillo, Representative of UNICEF Office for Croatia.
For the development of children with disabilities, early intervention services are crucial, and UNICEF's goal is to make them available to as many potential beneficiaries as possible. To this end, UNICEF will use the funds raised toequip sensory rooms in parts of Croatia where the needs are greatest and to train experts who deliver sensory integration therapies, because timely support for children with disabilities makes the difference between opportunities and the life on the margins of society.
As in previous years, the race is supported by many famous people and athletes, including UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Bojana Gregorić Vejzović and Mirna Medaković Stepinac, then Marin Čilić, Borna Čorić, Ana Konjuh, Luka Stepančić, Nevena Rendeli , Ida Prester, Janko Popović Volarić, Paralympians Anto Joskić, Nataša Sobočan and Jelena Vuković, as well as the host and runner Ana Radišić, who is always happy to take part in the Milky Way:
“I’m definitely running the Milky Way race this year! I am getting ready and I have already chosen my path! It's wonderful that with our racing steps, which do not require speed, but only heart and desire, we can support children. I’m sure of a great result and can’t wait to see the app packed with kilometers colected from all over Croatia from 5th to 20th September. I am looking forward to the most important result - happy children, whose disabilities we will help turn into possibilities! Thank you UNICEF for this wonderful gesture", said Ana Radišić.
The Milky Way is held under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Croatia, the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the City of Zagreb, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Education, the Ministry of Labor, Pension System, Family and Social Policy and the Croatian Paralympic Committee.
This year's race is also supported by numerous partners, including Kaufland, Pampers, Tele2, the Croatian Vehicle Center and DPD.
All those interested can still apply on the official website www.mlijecnastaza.hr where they can find more information.