WRITTEN BY: Jennifer Chien
EDITED BY: Maggie Morgan
After months of planning and pouring out the word across channels, the day finally arrived for the highly anticipated “Compassion Action: 2022 Tzu Chi Walkathon.” On April 16, things got into motion early on as cars began to arrive at Tzu Chi USA Headquarters around 7:00 a.m. The San Dimas, California campus was flooded with enthusiastic participants, with the end count totalling over 1,500 walkers.
More than 3,000 feet hit the pavement for a 5-kilometer walk with a big cause behind it. This was more than a leisurely stroll on a sunny California day; new friends of the Foundation and old supporters gathered in harmony to raise funding and awareness for Tzu Chi’s medical and education missions.
All Walks of Life Stroll Together as One
Every type of human being seemed to be represented in the walk’s participants. The eclectic crowd included groups of seniors moving along at a speedy pace, Hispanic families with more than ten relatives moving in stride, young parents with their toddlers in tow, loving pet owners, and even Chinese Masters from Tiantai Temple. Tzu Chi’s National Headquarters had been closed for the last two years as we tried to stay safe during the pandemic.
After what seemed like a never-ending halt on all in-person events, the Walkathon had the campus buzzing once again. The sunny April day seemed to hint towards the arrival of spring as the sleepy location was waking up once again.
“On the eve of Easter, two years after the pandemic outbreak, we are delighted to see old, new, and lost friends come to our nature-surrounded campus to participate in this cross-religious and multi-ethnic reunion,” said Debra Boudreaux, Chief Executive Officer of Tzu Chi USA. She added, “we hope that, during this Walkathon, everyone has a better understanding of Tzu Chi’s mission by visiting the ‘Good Fortune House’ and the Eco-Park, and seeing the displays of the Four Major Missions of Tzu Chi, so as to realize the Buddhist concept of respecting life, vegetarianism, and relieving suffering.”
With such a huge turnout, one had to wonder who was a newcomer and who had been to the campus before. As the host of the opening ceremony asked which participants were there for their first time, a quarter of the hands in attendance popped into the air. Emmett Badar, the mayor of San Dimas, was at the event with his wife, and excitedly remarked about the walkathon’s turnout.
Moving in a New Direction: Tzu Chi USA Headquarters Hosts a Wildly Successful Walkathon
For it being Tzu Chi USA Headquarters’ first large-scale walking event on its campus, the crowd was truly impressive. Not only did the event mark a welcome back ceremony for friends of Tzu Chi, but the charity walk was put into place to raise support for Tzu Chi’s medical and educational programs.
Tzu Chi USA’s educational efforts were one of the initiatives being showcased at the walkathon. Photo/Michelle Young
As many things seemed to unfold in the uniquely Buddhist Tzu Chi way, the connection and love in the crowd were the perfect metaphor for the organization as a whole. The overarching mission of every branch of the Foundation is to develop unity and strength in the face of human suffering. No matter the situation or the struggle, we are all working to live a life of kindness, love, and authenticity.
Taking the time to understand another living being’s deeply personal battles is the way the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation continues to grow its circle of compassion. The organization and its volunteers work tirelessly to support those who cannot easily support themselves medically, financially, and in the face of educational obstacles. The Walkathon’s palpable energy and clear intentions set the tone for a day full of loving energy and an outpouring of support, all set in the sunshine of Southern California.
The team at Tzu Chi USA Headquarters was inspired by the vitality and attendance at the walkathon, and thus have slated a variety of activities for the near future; the events will be based around different themes depending on the season. The campus will open its grounds to the public and welcome guests from all over the world to gather at a place they can all call home.
The “Compassion Action: 2022 Tzu Chi Walkathon” was just the first step on a new journey for the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and its friends both new and old. Together, we can continue to pave a path of innovation and compassion to change the lives of beings across the globe. As the spiritual teacher, Ram Dass, once observed, “We’re all just walking each other home.”