By Rawle Toney
Many thought he was crazy. Some said that it was impossible.
But national midfield player, Kayode McKinnon, defied all the odds and successfully completed the run from the Linden/Soesdyke Highway Junction to the Minibus Park in Linden, a distance of 47 miles late Saturday evening.
Inspired by the words made famous by US President Barack Obama, “Yes we can”, McKinnon took 13 hours and 20 minutes to become the first person in Guyana’s history to complete the gruelling run.
The strange thing about it is that the Linden native has nothing to gain from it financially, but his efforts, he says, is to highlight the fact that the disease, HIV/AIDS is plaguing our society and that youths are also being affected by it.
Under the “Hands of Love” organization which cares for children who are infected and affected by the disease, McKinnon set out to make the long run.
He started promptly at 6am, joined by fellow teammates Jamie Wilson and Javin Crawford along with Mark Young and Steve Ninvalle.
After Ninvalle and Young made their exits, it was Mc Kinnon and his two teammates.
They continued the long haul but stopped sporadically.
By this time, scores of people from Linden joined in on the run which offered plenty support.
McKinnon, racked by the pain of cramps to several parts of his body was drenched by rain along the way.
He also had to deal with the sun and the intense heat which it sent through the soles of his feet from the road.
But thanks to good work from the medical team and his family on hand he was well taken care of.
The jubilation started when he approached Bamia with the highway being transformed into a festive atmosphere with loud cheers and shouts of “yes you can” and “the journey is almost over” and it got louder when they approached the “welcome to Linden” sign.
As he made his way through the Amelia’s Ward area, residents lined the side of the highway all encouraging him to hold the faith and persevere to the end. But it was in Mackenzie where the village was transformed into a street fair like atmosphere to give a hero’s welcome to McKinnon.
He withstood all his pain and sprinted to the finish at the Minibus Park before he was engulfed by the swarm of persons gathered, all hailing him a hero in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Too energy-drained to speak upon completion of the run on Saturday, McKinnon, spoke with Stabroek Sport from his home in Linden yesterday, opening by giving thanks first to God for giving him the energy and guidance which he needed to complete the journey.
“There were times when I honestly felt like giving up because I underestimated the journey because it was far more than 40 miles, But it was through the grace of God and the help of my family and friends that I was able to make my dream a reality,” said McKinnon, also recalling breaking into tears from the pain which he felt along the way.
But now it is all over, the national football player nick-named “Magic Man” is hoping that people will respond saying that the fight against AIDS has to be done collectively.
He stated that prior to the run, he received numerous calls from persons across Guyana who felt deeply touched by his endeavour and vowed to follow. This, he says, is inspiring but echoed that action must be taken fast because every day children are being affected in some way or another by HIV/AIDS.
He intends to produce pamphlets highlighting his journey and fight against the AIDS epidemic so that persons can continue the journey. Presently he plans to stay off his feet for awhile in order to recuperate and to fine-tune his body back into football mode and to continue his work in his football academy.
Initially, it was reported that the distance was approximately 40 miles, but it was confirmed by some officials of the Lands and Survey Commission that the distance was in fact 47 miles.