Uon Pakthom, a Cambodian singer and performer better known as Sai, on October 2 officially inaugurated the event “Run with Sai: 400,000 steps”.

Sai – who first made headlines in 2020 when he began the “Run for Charity with Sai” to garner donations for the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap province by running on roads throughout the country – intends to raise funds this time around by running from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.

The 97-day charity run raised $500,000 to help the hospital, which was facing a funding shortfall. Established in 1999, the hospital aims to provide free medical services to Cambodian children.

For this year’s event, Sai plans to run to Siem Reap from October 22-30, hoping that the money raised will help the hospital assist ill children, particularly those with cancer. The hospital said there is an alarming upward trend of such cases.

Sin Ket Arun, director of the hospital’s Public Relations Office, said the hospital regularly diagnoses childhood cancers, including eye, spinal cord, tissue and brain cancers, along with leukemia.

Although the staff includes doctors who specialise in treating these conditions, Ket Arun says cancer treatment is often expensive as it involves complex techniques, including surgery, chemotherapy, laser treatment, tissue freezing injection and pain management.

The hospital has been caring for children with cancer since 2012. Each year, it requires between $350,000 and $400,000 to support clinical examinations and treatment. To date, it has treated 508 children with cancer.

In addition to donations, Sai encourages young people and other passionate runners to run alongside him and promote the spirit of sports in Cambodia, ahead of the Kingdom’s historic hosting of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games next year.

Sok Sabayna, executive director of #BeyondTheGames – a campaign initiated by the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) to promote the 2023 SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games – praised Sai’s dedication.

He hopes the event – which links humanitarian activities to the spirit of sports – would motivate the public to conduct further social activities according to their skills and potential.

Sai appealed to national and international philanthropists to donate as much as they can, saying every dollar would contribute to rescuing Cambodian children from the “claws of cancer”. All donations will be deposited directly in the hospital’s bank account.

To Sai, children are the hope, light and future of the Kingdom, so all Cambodians should come together to protect them so they will become strong pillars of the nation in future.