The coach of the trapped Thai soccer players is being called a hero for his selfless acts.
Photo by Lillian Suwanrumpha/Getty Images.

The fact that all 12 of the trapped soccer players in Thailand are safe and healthy isn’t just good luck.

On July 6, the Thai Navy SEALs posted a photo to their Facebook page of a note written by the Wild Boars coach Ekkapol Chantawong. The 25-year-old has been inside the cave with the 12 boys ever since they first went missing on June 23 during a hike after soccer practice.

"To all the parents, all the kids are still fine. I promise to take the very best care of the kids," he wrote in a note given to a rescue diver. "Thank you for all the moral support and I apologize to the parents."


Chantawong and the young boys have been through so much. Thankfully, eight of them have already been freed and efforts to rescue the remaining four players and their coach are expected to resume as soon as possible.

But instead of blaming the young soccer coach, many of those who know him best, including parents of the players, are sharing stories of his generosity and compassion.

Chantawong’s early life was changed by tragedy. Now he’s being called a hero.

Unfortunately, Chantawong is all too familiar with tragedy. When he was only 10, a disease wiped out his entire village, including his parents and brother.

His aunt Umporn Sriwichai was his only surviving family member. She eventually sent him to a Buddhist temple, where he underwent a decade of training to become a monk until he left in 2015.

That’s when he became an assistant coach with the Wild Boars team.

"I always believed that Chantawong would help them keep calm and optimistic," Sriwichai said.

And rather than blame him, most people are praising the former monk for his selfless actions. A popular cartoon in Thailand shows Chantawong cradling 12 "wild boars" in his arms.

His monk training may have helped save their lives

According to various reports, Chantawong has been teaching basic meditation skills to the 12 boys to help them stay calm during their ordeal.

And while it would be expected that he’d stay behind until all the kids were freed anyway, reportedly he doesn’t really have a choice as he is still physically recovering after giving away most of his food and water rations to the kids before they were located by a search and rescue team.

"If he didn't go with them, what would have happened to my child?" said Pornchai Khamluang, a mother of one of the trapped boys. "When he comes out, we have to heal his heart. My dear Ek, I would never blame you."

Most of the focus has understandably been on the trapped kids and those trying to rescue them. But their coach has quietly been living his own heroic story that’s worth celebrating.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less