Social activist Koppalai Kirnan passes away during marathon

KLANG: Retiree Koppalai Kirnan, who had been helping the needy for years without much fanfare, collapsed and died while running in a marathon on Sunday (Jan 28).

According to his son Tinesh, the 65-year-old social activist had completed 8km of the run when he collapsed and could not be resuscitated.

“He was pacing himself, but I believe he may have pushed to try to complete the 10km goal,” said Tinesh.

Koppalai is a familiar figure to many charitable homes in Klang as he helped them regularly through the welfare organisation Humanitarian Helpers.

Under his stewardship, the organisation also provided monthly groceries to poor families, supported rural schools and their students in cash and kind, and provided hospital beds, wheelchairs and crutches for those needing support equipment.

Humanitarian Helpers also rebuilt fire-damaged homes for several needy families and fixed drinking water filtration systems in several schools.

Koppalai, who had been carrying out charitable and welfare activities for two decades, successfully organised a free market in Shah Alam in October, which was attended by over 1,000 people.

“My father was a hero to the many people he had reached out to and helped regardless of race or religion.

“The number of calls we received and the many people coming to pay their last respects shows us how much love he has generated and the lives he has touched,” said Tinesh,38.

He added that Koppalai had always been a source of motivation for him and his younger brother Thiban, 34.

Condolence messages are pouring into his Facebook account, with many grieving his untimely demise.

Geetha Preto Kaur wrote that Koppalai was a man with a golden heart who had gone to her home in Cheras to deliver a wheelchair for her son.

She added that he had messaged her on Saturday (Jan 27) to ask how her son was faring with the wheelchair.

Nitya Dev wrote: “Thanks for all your loving sacrifices and assistance to so many lives.

“Your good deeds will not be forgotten.”

Koppalai’s final two deeds last week were helping a disabled woman in Klang and sponsoring food for a school in Simpang Morib.

“Helped this needy amma. Her left leg was amputated, and we have given her a wheelchair, toilet chair and a walker.

“Thanks to Eng Peng Chew for sharing the above items to help this amma. God bless,” Koopalai wrote on social media.

He leaves behind his wife Manjula Gurunathan, sons Tinesh and Thiban from a previous marriage, two grandchildren and a stepson, Daniel Devan, 27.

Koppalai’s remains will be cremated at Nirvana Memorial Park in Shah Alam on Monday (Jan 29) afternoon after funeral rites at his home, also in Shah Alam.