Japanese basketball fan Moriaka Horoshi (27) dribbled a basketball from Tokyo to Sendai in an effort to bring back sports to schools badly damaged by the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
Bouncing a basketball 370 kilometers (231 miles) through the cold, rain and snow, Moriaka left Tokyo in mid-January, 2012 and 11 days later arrived in Sendai. It was his way of raising money to purchase 100 basketballs for kids in the Tohoku area.
Obviously Moriaka was astute enough to realize that the country's mandate was to get people's homes and businesses and schools up and running, but feared the kids were losing out on the simpler things in life, like sports.
"As can be expected, in parts of Tohoku it hasn't been possible for children to participate in sports clubs and activities," says Moriaka. "I hope that this project can help them to enjoy sports again."
Dressed simply in long tights and basketball shorts with a thick cap on his head, Moriaka dribbled his basketball along his chosen path, aptly switching hands while avoiding snow and puddles along the country's oft-narrow sidewalks.
A veteran of several other long-distance dribbling treks in Japan, Moriaka was cheered on by a wide variety of spectators along the way, from children who posed with him for pictures to briefcase-carrying businessmen in suits.
"I just wanted to touch the basketball for myself," states an elderly shopkeeper in Fukushima-ken.
However, there were many times during his odyssey when Moriaka became discouraged - especially when walking alone for hours through the cold, blustery snowy countryside.
"A lot of people were cheering me on, people I met on the road as well as people on the web. Because of that I thought 'I can't give up, I have to keep going.' All those peoples' encouragement were now part of this ball," says Moriaka. "I knew I had to make sure this basketball made it to its goal."
Moriaka, who lost about six kilograms (13 pounds) during his trek, was working with the Kids Smile charity, who were all together looking to earn enough money to buy 300 basketballs.
He says he earned ¥92,000 (~Cdn/US $1,200) from donations on the road, and had a corporate sponsor donate an additional ¥125,000 yen (~Cdn/US $1,625), but this still does not yet include the Internet donations not yet tabulated as of this report.
Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife says congratulations to Moriaka-san, whose heart is truly in the right place. I would work with this person any day!
Compiled by Andrew Joseph