Orange Little Athlete joins Olympians at Love Mercy Cronulla Fun Run
16-year-old Riley Whatman travelled five hours from Orange yesterday to join Olympians Eloise Wellings and Julius Achon for a Fun Run at Cronulla Beach.
Riley is one of the Little A’s travelling to Uganda in November to compete at the Julius Achon Cross Country, raising funds for the Love Mercy Foundation.
During the early hours of Friday morning, Riley and his father accompanied Australian Olympian Youcef Abdi during the 6km run along the picturesque Cronulla coastline.
Love Mercy founder and Australian Olympian Eloise Wellings was a Little Athlete during her youth and is delighted that LANSW is contributing to the charity she helped create.
“Little Athletics was such a pivotal thing for me when I was young – it was a great start to the sport because it was fun and inclusive,” said Wellings.
“It’s really exciting that now Little Athletics can come and support what we’re doing in Uganda and the kids can get some perspective on how blessed we are to live in a country like Australia and how free we are and how many opportunities we have compared to other people.
“We have the opportunity to have an impact on other people’s lives simply through running.”
Love Mercy was founded in 2012 after Wellings met Julius Achon in America during an intensive injury rehabilitation period.
Achon was working as a pacemaker for some of the top American athletes but was sending most of his wages home to care for eleven orphans he’d found living underneath a bus in the height of the war.
“[Julius] told me a story about being born into poverty in Northern Uganda and captured and being forced to be a child soldier by the LRA rebels when he was ten years old – he was held at a rebel camp for three months and escaped,” said Wellings.
“I was touched by his story, and we became really good friends.
“My husband and I went to his wedding, and that was our first time to Uganda – we met all of the orphans and saw the devastation that the war had left and we felt like we had a responsibility to do something with what we’d seen.”
As of June 14th, Riley has raised $1,200 for Love Mercy – this is an incredible achievement, and all donors, along with the Orange community, should be thanked for their generosity.
Shane Whatman, Riley’s father, is a dairy farmer who has faced a difficult few months during the recent New South Wales droughts.
“It’s definitely been tough – we’ve only had 50mm of rain [this year],” said Whatman.
“The supermarkets raise the price by ten cents, but we get basically nothing from that.”
You can help Riley achieve his goal of $2,000 by CLICKING HERE.
If you’re interested in joining Riley and Youcef Abdi on the trip-of-a-lifetime, CLICK HERE.