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June 9, 2012

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American teacher ends charity run in wheelchair

THE American teacher of a bilingual school who planned to run 24 straight hours to raise funds for a Nepalese school spent the end of his trek in a wheelchair after injuring his knees.

But Christopher Gibbs's charity run was still finished by teachers, students and parents of YK Pao School's Songjiang District campus who were touched by his spirit and volunteered for a relay.

Starting at 8am on Thursday, more than 80 people participated in Gibbs's run at the school to support the physical education teacher.

With the weather sticky and hot, Gibbs was exhausted by 6pm, his legs trembling. About 6:30pm, Gibbs was ordered to stop running as he could barely stand after aggravating an old sports injury to this knees, witnesses said. Gibbs finished about 73 kilometers before he could no longer walk.

Instead of leaving the track, Gibbs got in the wheelchair and cheered for those who took his baton to finish the campaign.

At 7:45am yesterday, Gibbs was pushed by students, fellow teachers and parents for the last 15 minutes to finish the 24-hour campaign.

"The moment was so touching and we had never expected so many teachers and parents would be so supportive of Gibbs's charity run," said a teacher of the school yesterday afternoon. "Gibbs should be sleeping deeply by now."

The amount raised in the Hands 24 Hour Run campaign was still being calculated yesterday and will be announced on July 15 after another fund-raising event, the school told Shanghai Daily.

"It's a brand new experience for the kids, who have learned a new form of fund-raising," said a father surnamed Yang, who ran for at least 10 hours in the campaign.

Yang started the relay with three other parents at 8pm on Thursday to keep the campaign alive. All proceeds will be donated to a poor school in Darka, Nepal, to help it hire teachers, build a library and add rooms.

"I have had the idea for this event for the past few years," Gibbs, who teaches physical education at the school, told Shanghai Daily earlier. "Extreme events encourage creativity, and I wanted to do something that would test me physically while giving others something to think about."

Gibbs suffered altitude sickness while climbing Mount Everest two years ago and was stranded above the 5,000-meter level of the world's highest peak. He couldn't walk and had trouble breathing. Two Nepalese men carried him down.


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