All that Akash Dube wants from schools is five minutes' time at their assembly. A brief introduction of himself, cancer, the disease he is also fighting, and the run in the city to support a cause — all these get covered in those few minutes when he addresses school assemblies to mobilise the student community to lend their support for the Terry Fox Run in Chennai.

It was last year that 17-year-old Akash brought the Terry Fox Run to Chennai for the first time, after he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

The condition prevented him from participating in the Terry Fox Charity Run in Dubai, where he resides. “Last year I was under intensive treatment, so I could reach out to only a few schools. Though we had nearly 3,000 participants, this year I hope to see more students joining,” he says, talking to The Hindu after addressing students at St. Michael's Academy Matriculation Higher Secondary School recently.

He plans to address at least five to six educational institutions this time and the other schools, he requests them to carry posters of the run.

Chemotherapy, which he has to undergo for the next two years, makes him tired sometimes, but he seems calm and composed. “This run is a social event. You can come with a group of friends, talk, have fun and run on anything non-motorised. There are no prizes to be won and everyone gets a certificate, but you are lending your voice for research in the field,'' says Akash who has completed his A Level in Dubai.

Besides campaigning for the run and the two months he is at his grandparent's home, Akash is a research intern at IIT-Madras' Biotech department.

Addressing hundreds of restless students need not convert into sizeable numbers on the big day, but he believes it helps spread awareness. “There are sometimes students and teachers curious to know more.”

The Chennai Terry Fox Run, supported by Rotary Club of Madras East, is on August 22. It will be begin at the stadium on the IIT Campus at 8 a.m. For details write to terryfoxrunchennai@gmail.com.

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