The Sport called Life

The Sport called Life!

Finnish wheelchair racer Leo-Pekka Tähti is a five-time Paralympic gold medallist. Earlier this year he added another award to his mantle, this time for his work in sports, off-field. We asked him what motivates him.

Text: Maiju Karhunen Photo: Urheilugaala 2018

“Sports has had a huge impact on my life and through my career I’ve gained a new perspective on things, which I’m very grateful for,” says Leo-Pekka Tähti, setting the stage for the conversation.

He was given the Wärtsilä Philanthropy in Sports award at the Finnish Sports Gala for his charity work in improving education and social inclusion of children in sports and play.

Tähti collaborates with Plan International to collect funds for causes such as improving attitudes towards disabilities in Pakistani and Ethiopian societies. Children there are included in play and sports by modifying the rules, equipment, environment and teaching methods. Tähti’s fundraising campaign is running through all of February 2018 and donations are most welcome. The campaign page can be accessed here (page in Finnish).

With fair play, taking other people into consideration and equal opportunities being important values to him, Plan International’s work resonates with him. It furthers these values in places where they are not self-evident for all children, especially girls and kids with disabilities.

Tähti believes raising awareness is the best way to support children’s equal opportunities.

This is perhaps why, when Plan International contacted him and suggested a fundraising campaign, he knew immediately it was something he wanted to participate in.

“The fundraising shares exactly the same values as I have in life. Equality is a very important thing for all of us. Unfortunately, it’s not yet the reality in the developing countries.

“Luckily, many charities are doing great things to make the situation better,” Tähti adds.

Wärtsilä and the peace broker organisation Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) recognises such efforts. This year’s award of USD 10,000 donated by Wärtsilä, went directly to the fundraising campaign that Tähti is part of.

It awarded Tähti at the Finnish Sports Gala in Helsinki earlier this year. The award was given out by Executive Vice President, Communications & Branding Atte Palomäki from Wärtsilä and Tuija Talvitie, Executive Director of CMI.

“With this award, we want to highlight the value of diversity and equal opportunities. Tähti is an outstanding role model. Together with Plan International he can impact attitudes on a societal level,” says Palomäki.

“I am just very grateful to everyone who has helped me during my career,” says Tähti, while humbly accepting the award.

“I want to project the image that everything in life is possible if you really want it and you have the passion for it.”

True that.

Leave a comment

Load more comments

Related articles