Ari Marino was a fundraising super star for The Long Run in 2023 and nothing’s changed for the 2024 event.
He rallied his team mates from Christchurch Football Club’s U9 Sharks to raise money as a team and as the sun set on Friday 19 January – the day of The Long Run – they’d raised nearly $6,000 for the Child Cancer Foundation.
He was one of the first runners round Malvern and Rugby parks on Friday morning, continuing what is surely becoming a tradition for Ari and his family. Last year he ran more kilometres than he ever had, and even carried the event baton for the last lap.
The year before that, when Crusaders Academy Manager Aaron Webb ran 102km around the same track and was joined at times by members of the community and the Crusaders team and staff, Ari was there again.
This year he ran 42km throughout the day.
So why does Ari do it?
“Because it’s a little bit unfair, it’s not their fault that they get cancer, it’s just a thing that happens,” the nine year old said shortly after lunch.
“So I want to help other people with cancer, not just my friend who had it.”
Last year, Ari told us he was fundraising because his friend was diagnosed with cancer aged 4. He’s three years in remission now after, in Ari’s words, he “kicked its butt”.
The CFC Sharks had a team tent in the corporate area, and were even doing calf massages for any weary runners – for a $5 donation to their page.
“I’ve done 29 laps so far and I want to do a marathon by the end of the day,” Ari said.
Ari’s mum Tina Mahony said there was no stopping the young super-fan. He’ll turn out for any Crusaders event, and followed any trend set by the team. Just earlier this week he and Tina were spotted at Apollo Projects Stadium taking part in an advertising video shoot for the team.
“When he was three he won a competition and spent an afternoon with Richie Mo’unga, and ever since then he’s just been a huge fan,” Tina said.
“The whole team really, any time they see him around they always say hello, they fist bump, they make him feel a special part of the group. He’s only nine, but they’ve been doing that the last few years and it means the world. Ari and his mum love rugby and buy a membership every year.
“I just love taking him, he buzzes out on game day every time. And events like this, The Long Run, we’ll always jump on board,” Tina said.
“As Ari said, it’s not fair these kids get cancer, it’s not their fault. So anything we can do to give back, we’re going to do it.”