Rock star Artiwara “Toon” Kongmalai kicked off a two-day charity run on Saturday to raise funds for eight public hospitals with donations soaring to 15 million THB in the first hour.

The runners set off from the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge in Muang district of Nong Khai at 5am on Saturday, with provincial governor Ronnachai Jitwiset chairing the opening ceremony.

The Bodyslam lead singer then spoke to the crowd about his latest campaign, called “Kao Kon La Kao-Kao Tor Pai Duay Palang Lek Lek Phak Isan” (One step each by each person, move on with a small force in the Northeast).

Artiwara his actress. girlfriend Rachwin ‘Koi’ Wongviriya, actor Tanongsak Supakarn and other runners led the first lap of the run for 10 kilometres from the bridge along Mittraparb Road to the Assawan PTT station before handing over to actor Pakorn “Dome” Lum to lead the next leg.

The rocker, who became a national hero when he led a 55-day marathon and raised 1.37 billion THB for public hospitals in 2017. His team was warmly received by cheering crowds who waited along the route to donate money.

During the first hour of the run, donations rose to 15 million THB, the Kao Kon La Kao Foundation announced on its Facebook page.

This run on Saturday and Sunday will cover 175 kilometres from Nong. Khai to Khon Kaen. The eight hospitals that will receive the funds are Khon Kaen 2 and Phon hospitals in Khon Kaen; Kumphawapi and Nong Han in Udon Thani; Sa Khrai and Sang Khom hospitals in Nong Khai, Na Wang Chalerm Phrakiart Hospital in Nong Bua Lamphu and Bung Kan Hospital in Bung Kan.