From Illness to Triumph: My Journey to Breaking a World Record in Times Square – Tunde Onakoya

I have struggled to find the right words to capture all of the emotions I’ve felt in the last couple of days-it is indeed one of those weeks when decades happened.

I had woken up in the middle of the night some two weeks ago, cancelled my flight back home and decided to pursue this crazy idea of breaking the world record right in the heart of Times Square.

It was basically attempting the impossible due to time constraints, but we made it work and got all the necessary permissions as our will was far greater than any resistance we faced.

But two days before the record attempt, my health failed me. It was so bad I had started sneezing blood, and coughing violently. I was on the verge of calling it off but I had promised the children back home that I was going to make them proud and come back to them with tales of triumph. After all, I had taught them that it was possible to do great things from a small place against all odds. On the day of the attempt, I still wasn’t feeling well but I dressed up and walked down to Times Square to see that Nigerians had turned up in numbers with Flags and flowers in hand to cheer me on. With tears in my eyes, I walked up to the chess board and did it afraid, unwell,uncertain but with a resolute mind. After 60 hours of mental torture, we set a new record for the longest chess marathon in the world.

We pushed human limitation and gave the world something new to believe in. But my greatest joy wasn’t just breaking the record, it was in the little moments we shared with everyone that was present and the wave of support back home in Nigeria.

I experienced human love and kindness In it’s purest form. People travelled from all over the world to come sit with us in the cold as we sparred for several hours.

To everyone who supported our vision, donated to our cause and stood by us – this record is yours as much as it is mine. Together we have done something truly extraordinary.

Thank you As I sit here on my flight back home, my heart is full and I can’t wait to tell the children their dreams are valid as well.

Well done Tunde-The one who gives the forgotten little children big caps to wear, now the world will see them through your light.





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