FORMER Apprentice star Mergim Butaja will tackle the Coventry half marathon in February to support families fleeing the ongoing conflict in Syria.
The 23-year-old, who emotional farewell speech on The Apprentice highlighted the importance of remaining strong and determined in the face of adversity, will join other fundraisers from international humanitarian charity Penny Appeal.
Members of #TeamOrange – the name given to Penny Appeal’s volunteer family, will hit the city’s streets for the 13.1mile race.
Mergim, whose family fled from war-torn Kosovo to the UK when he was just seven years old, said: “I came to the UK in the back of a lorry.
“I’m so thankful that I was able to make it to the UK and be able to call this my home – it’s important to give back to help others.
“The Run For Their Lives challenge will bring people together to help refugees who are in similar situations to mine – their homes are being destroyed and there’s no hope for the future.
“We’ll be able to provide some of the necessities they need on their journeys, such as food, warm clothes and medical support, and also help them find strength and determination.”
The charity’s participation in the event is being organised by Haroon Mota – who is a keen runner with many miles under his belt.
The Midlands fundraising manager at Penny Appeal said that the Coventry half marathon is a great way of giving fundraisers a feel for the hardships that refugees face.
He added: “Penny Appeal teams are on the ground in countries such as Greece, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, providing essential aid to refugee families.
“We’ll continue that support over the difficult cold months through our Winter Emergency campaign.
“Waterproof clothes, hygiene items, sleeping bags and tents can make a world of difference and even save lives – we’re delighted that so many people are taking on this challenge to help refugees.”
Penny Appeal still has places available for Coventry’s half marathon – each participant is asked to pay a £25 registration fee and raise a minimum of £100 in sponsorship.
To book your place, call 03000 111111 or if you’d like to support the #TeamOrange runners you can make a donation by visiting www.justgiving.com/Teams/CovHalf16