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December 17, 2013
Belarusians hold 24-hour charity race to raise money for cancer-stricken Ukrainian gymnast

Marina Loskutova. Photo/TUT.BY
by Yuij Mikhalevich, AIPS Young Reporter

MINSK, December 17, 2013 - Belarusian sports stars recently participated in a 24-hour race to support Ukrainian gymnast Marina Loskutova. The charity event was held on December 14-15 at one of the athletics stadiums in Minsk and attended by 1300 Belarusians. AIPS and SPORT.TUT.BY were at the scene for more than four hours of this unique event in Minsk to show the faces of these heroes.

Marina Loskutova was heavily involved in rhythmic gymnastics and her dream was to reach Olympic heights, but now she is forced to deal with nephroblastoma. Her kidney cancer was diagnosed in February 2013. Over the past ten months Marina has undergone two operations (in Kiev and Minsk) and a few sessions of chemotherapy. To triumph over the disease the gymnast needs more treatment at the Greifswald Clinic in Germany, which costs more than 250,000 euros.

"My daughter’s health is constantly changing because her immune system is weakened," Loskutova’s mother said with a heavy voice to AIPS’ Anatoly Loskutov.

Top Belarusian officials initiated a unique sports event for the Ukrainian athlete and invited people who cared about Loskutova, including two-time Olympic silver medalist in swimming Alexandra Herasimenia; Olympic silver medalist in rhythmic gymnastics, Kseniya Sankovich; Belarusian athlete Alina Talai; and head coach of the national ice hockey team, Glen Hanlon.

"Looking at pictures of this thirteen-year old girl I remember my son, who is now eleven. I cannot imagine the suffering experienced by Marina's parents.

“However, we all understand that this can happen to anyone. The desire of active society to help the child testifies to the responsiveness of the Belarusian people, who are always ready to come to the rescue,” Glen Hanlon said.

"I would have ran a marathon for this! We all need to help Marina,” added Alina Talai.

"Unfortunately, I cannot run with all the participants because of [my] participation in the European Championships in swimming, but my friends decided to support the initiative. We also look forward to seeing everyone who cares about Marina's fate,” said Alexandra Herasimenia.

"So what, that Marina is not ours? All agree that it is wrong to divide along ethnic lines...I believe that a miracle can happen. We all have to believe in it,” said Kseniya Sankovich as she urged Belarusians to come to the running track.

The participants of the event called “For 24 hours. Marina’s Heart” started on December 14 at 3:00 pm and finished on December 15 at 2:59 pm. As a result, the participants of charity event collected 234,139,000 Belarusian rubles (with a minimum contribution of twenty thousand rubles) or over 18,000 euro, as well as setting a national record for the duration of the race. For reference, the average salary in Belarus is less than 500 euros.

Of course the participants have not collected enough money to send Marina Loskutova to Greifswald Clinic tomorrow. But Belarusian and Russian show business stars have made donations to her charity account, while Marina’s sad story is also becoming well-known in Ukraine. Donations are still being accepted to help this young gymnast overcome disease.

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