NYC marathon runner to raise funds for PGH
On Nov. 2, a Filipino runner once diagnosed with a childhood heart ailment will participate at the TCS New York City Marathon. Lawyer Ariel Arriola will run 42 kilometers in New York City to raise funds for the benefit of more than 600 indigent children under the care of the Department of Pediatrics of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).
In a section about Arriola’s advocacy, the NYC Marathon’s official fundraising website www.crowdrise.com/pghpediatrics/fundraiser/arielarriola explained that because “getting decent medical attention is expensive and out of reach for many who live in the Philippines,” the poor rely on government institutions like the PGH for primary healthcare needs.
The limited budget and resources of the PGH are insufficient to bear the daily cost, much less pay for the required medical procedures of these children.
The PGH relies heavily on charities such as Child Health In Life and Development (CHILD) Foundation Inc. for financial support. Arriola is one of many runners participating in the NYC marathon to raise awareness for a cause.
He has asked sponsors like Sola Iced Tea and Jollibee to match his personal donation of P1,000 for every kilometer he completes at the NYC marathon.
All donations will be channelled through the CHILD Foundation.
He has also asked other Filipinos joining the marathon with a 43-year history to likewise support the PGH pediatric patients who need at least P500 a day for maintenance “I know what it means to live with a heart ailment,” says Arriola. “I also know the cost of curing such an ailment.”
Arriola was around 8 years old when he had his first “heart attack” while swimming.
He recalls seeing his heart literally trying to leap out of his breast. The diagnosis was that he had a mitral valve prolapse or an improperly closing heart valve. He was advised to refrain from strenuous activities, which included most sports.
Because Arriola did not exhibit further symptoms after that initial episode, he tried to live a normal life. As a teenager, he even continued to engage competitively in sports without telling anyone about his illness.
Sports eventually took a backseat in Arriola’s life as he pursued a law degree at Ateneo de Manila, passed the Philippine bar, and joined the global firm of Baker & McKenzie.
Later on, he became a graduate legal studies scholar of his firm at the Columbia Law School and passed the New York bar.
Arriola is a private law practitioner based in Makati who helps foreign companies invest in the Philippines.
He was deep into his practice when he had his second episode at 35.
Then newly married and about to become a father, he was playing in a lawyer’s basketball league when he was rushed to the hospital because of severe and irregular heart palpitations.
A battery of tests revealed that Arriola had Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome, a condition where an abnormal extra electrical pathway in the heart could lead to episodes of rapid heart rate. In severe cases, WPW can result in sudden cardiac arrest.
Given this diagnosis, Arriola underwent a procedure that destroyed the abnormal electrical pathway in his heart by radio frequency catheter ablation.
With his heart ailment cured, Arriola got into running in 2006 and, eventually, into triathlons in 2010. He trains regularly with son Martin, and daughter Bianca.
Arriola first learned about the children at the PGH from a pediatric cardiologist there.
“It became my personal mission to do something for them. The NYC Marathon is the perfect opportunity to fulfill this mission,” he said.
So far, he has gotten support of corporate sponsors such as Sola Iced Tea, Jollibee Food Corp., Coca-Cola, and media sponsors like Takbo.ph, Endurance Magazine, and numerous generous and selfless individuals (friends and strangers alike) who have made pledges to the CHILD Foundation, which directly supports the PGH’s Department of Pediatrics.
Arriola is asking donors to pledge to the CHILD Foundation the amount of P100 for each kilometer of the NYC Marathon he completes.
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