Tributes have been made to the late optometrist Kamal Aftab (pictured), who raised more than £21,000 for charity by undertaking a “hospital marathon,” a marathon in his hospital room, while he was undergoing treatment for leukaemia.
Mr Aftab’s family and friends are encouraging people to help them meet the £50,000 target he set himself to raise for the charity, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, before his death on 7 August at the age of 33.
The optometrist worked for Valli Group Opticians in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, and Specsavers Opticians in Worksop, Nottinghamshire.
Mr Aftab was a renowned youth worker and was voted The Guardian 2014 Volunteer of the Year for his work.
Before his untimely death, Mr Aftab wrote on the JustGiving charity page he established: “I’m an optometrist by profession, but my passion has always been in volunteering. I’ve climbed mountains, run marathons and had the opportunity to raise tens of thousands of pounds for several UK charities.
“Over a decade of dedicating my life to volunteering has taught me an important lesson – you are only as desperate as your mind and heart allows you to be.”
He added: “Cancer, acute myeloid leukaemia in my case, has only heightened my realisation of how important charity is, so I’m challenging myself to complete a very special marathon for charity during my chemotherapy – a marathon while confined to my five square-metre room, armed only with a pedometer and a smile.”
The optometrist’s older brother, Yousaf Aftab, paid tribute to his brother. “Kamal gave life his all. He loved his faith and his faith drove him to love others. My brother said being Muslim and British meant doing one’s utmost to both help others and to take as little as possible from society. He passed away peacefully and with dignity, weak in body but stronger than ever in spirit.
“Instead of mourning his death, I ask people to honour his life. To find a cause they are passionate about and to give it their all. I’ve seen him spend 33 years smiling and I just know that would make his smile widen a little more.”
Mr Aftab’s cousin, Irfan Ud-Din, who is also an optometrist, told OT: “My cousin and dear friend was a fine individual who had an extreme passion for optometry and helping others. He touched many people’s hearts.”
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research regional manager for the North, Catriona Tait, paid tribute to Mr Aftab on the charity’s website. She said: “Kamal was a very inspirational man who selflessly supported charities, most recently Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, undertaking a marathon challenge from his hospital room. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”
To support Mr Aftab’s campaign, visit his JustGiving page.