An Air Force flyover and 20,000 cheering admirers greeted Artiwara “Toon” Kongmalai in Prachuap Khiri Khan on Monday as he resumed his cross-country run to raise money for hospitals.
After several days off to let a pulled tendon heal, Toon began Day 27 of what’s become a more challenging campaign than expected, leaving Ban Wa Tone in Tambon Klong Wan at 5am looking fresh and with no signs of injury.
He and his squad of fellow runners passed King Rama V Science Park before switching to a road parallel to the Prachuap-Wa Ko railway and stopping at Air Force Wing 5 Command headquarters. The visitors paid their respects at the ‘Chao Pho Khao Lom Muak Shrine’ and ‘December 8, 1941 Heroes Monument’.
Group Captain Anirut Ratthaporn, commander of Wing 5, greeted Toon as hundreds of Air Force officers waited in line to meet him. A Peacemaker bomber flew overhead displaying the national flag. The commander also donated 99,999 Baht to the campaign and Songkiart Limanurak, president of the Prachuap Khiri Khan Provincial Administrative Organisation, contributed another 500,000 Baht.
At 8am Toon headed north on Salacheep Road, bound for the provincial shrine just two kilometres away, but the trip took more than an hour because there were an estimated 20,000 people along the route ready to hand his group cash and cheer them on.
The crowd was so large that the road had to be closed to traffic. At the shrine, Toon ascended a makeshift stage to sing a song thanking the people of Prachuap Khiri Khan. He said that, while he can quickly overcome any tiredness he feels any day, there were doctors and nurses endlessly labouring to care for people in more dire need. The medical professionals were the ones who deserve the public’s thanks, he said, not him.
STORY: The Nation
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