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US Ambassador to Japan William F. Hagerty and his family with Michael Coutu of Boy Scouts of America Troop 758, based in Nagoya.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) and Nagoya International School (NIS) joined together on Sunday, May 20, at Nagoya International Center’s Moricoro Park for one of the chamber’s most popular annual events, the ACCJ/NIS Chubu Walkathon. There was great music, food, and fun—all for a good cause: supporting those in need within our community.

Many corporate sponsors, led by Kondo Sanko Co., Ltd., Oak Lawn Marketing, Inc., and MetLife Insurance K.K., provided the backbone needed to pull off this great event. We were also fortunate to have Harman International Japan Co., Ltd., who provided financial support and our special raffle ticket prizes, back as a sponsor this year. By the end of the day—through corporate pledges and the sale of food and tickets—the 2018 Walkathon had raised more than ¥7 million for several local charities that will be determined at a meeting this summer.

SMALL IS BIG
These contributions often target small organizations doing big work on a grassroots level. The event supports groups such as Ichihoshi, which provides kids, who have developmental disorders, with afterschool opportunities for skill building and play; and the Aichi Marrow Bank Support Association, which raises awareness of the critical need for bone marrow transplant donors.

Many of these smaller organizations rely on Walkathon funds for a large portion of their limited budgets, making it worth all the hard work of organizing and holding such an important community event.

Funds are also earmarked to support the Chubu Children’s Fund (CCF), a charitable organization born out of the 25th anniversary of the Walkathon. CCF aims to support children and young adults who have grown up in local orphanages by providing the tools needed to succeed after leaving the orphanage system. This is done mainly through scholarships for tertiary education and by helping get children up to speed with technology. Our first five scholarship recipients were present at this year’s Walkathon and assisted children in the game area. They not only participated in the event, but also raised awareness of the need to fund these scholarships.

Left: Nagoya International School student Mina Nepali, from Nagoya-based hula studio Halau Hula ‘o Lehuau’iokalani, dances on stage.
Right: Walkathon master of ceremony Deryk Langlais with a Stormtrooper and Tie Fighter Pilot from the 501st Legion’s Japanese garrison.

SPECIAL GUESTS
This year we were fortunate to welcome US Ambassador to Japan William F. Hagerty IV and his family, who were visiting Nagoya from Tokyo and led the walk that opened the event.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from Japan and the United States carried flags, and the children enjoyed seeing Tom, the US Embassy’s jellybean-inspired social media goodwill ambassador, as well as Walkie the Walrus, the official mascot of the Chubu Walkathon.

Four local Beatles tribute bands entertained young and old during the morning music set, and favorites from the area music scene took the stage in the afternoon. Local food and drink vendors were also on hand to complement the great music and fun activities with culinary delights.

Not to be forgotten, a record number of volunteers—as well as supporters from several local universities and schools—took part to ensure that the day went smoothly. Many Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and NIS students also worked tirelessly.

ACCJ–Chubu Women in Business Committee Chair Nao Geisler (left), Vice-Chair Erin Sakakibara (right), and ACCJ–Chubu Operation Manager Noriko Kato with Erin’s dogs Ginger and Oscar.

HISTORY OF HELP
First held more than 27 years ago with 200 or so walkers, the event has stayed true to its original mission despite its growth. Our goal has always been to provide a way for US corporations and individuals to join with the local community in a fun way to give back by supporting those in need and cultivating positive relationships for all—regardless of background.

We would like to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported the 2018 Walkathon. There were many tired but happy faces by the end of the day, and the fact that several local organizations will benefit from building these local bonds makes us proud of the role the ACCJ and NIS play in this community. Now, off to plan for 2019 and the 28th annual Walkathon!

Walkathon group photo with all the volunteers who made the event a success.