Long-time runners embark on effort to help Kenyan orphans
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Long-time runners embark on effort to help Kenyan orphans

It is a country, in a continent, that's been ravaged by poverty, political strife, corruption and violence since what seems like the beginning of time.

And this year has been particularly treacherous for Kenya, hot and bone-dry amid a painfully long drought that's turned lakes into streams, rivers into sand.

But two long-time runners, part of the Old Guys in Action fundraising group, are embarking on an incredible effort — the "Run for a Needy Child" half-marathon to help up to 2,500 children who live in the Mully Children's Family Group of Homes and Schools.

The impressive charitable institute which houses, educates and nurtures orphaned and abandoned children in several locations across Kenya, was created by Kenyan entrepreneur Charles Mulli, who himself was once an orphan.

But with crops failing miserably in extreme dry conditions, fish parched and dying, and water becoming increasingly scarce, the Mully children's family sites are in desperate need of resources.

"These people are our friends, that we've come to know and care about over many years," said Ross Weaver, 64 and an ultra-fit marathoner who runs or cycles to work almost every day.

"They've taught me that every human being has value and dignity. And they are just as worthy as we are to have homes, food, schooling and all of the basics."

Weaver recalls the day, some 20 years ago, when he stood in an open desert while doing development work in Africa. He saw the devastation of dead goats and cattle scattered across the land, another ugly reminder of famine, drought, poverty and horrific living conditions so common to the embattled continent.

"I can still remember the outrage I felt that day, the sense that life is just as important over there as it is over here.

"We live in a global world...and when you run in it, whether it's through Somalia, Kenya, the jungles of Africa, it's amazing, it changes you."

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Bernie Potvin, 67, also a life-time runner, racer and cyclist, hopes the half-marathon event can raise up to $50,000 on race day May 14, which will include some 20 elite Kenyan runners and another 300 "average" folks like him.

But most importantly, the duo, who have been racing together for years, hope to make the run an annual event, attracting more Kenyans, Canadians and international participants every year in the name of Mully and his incredible initiative.

By 2018, they hope to make the event a full marathon.

"Our motto is: you can't just sit there when there is so much injustice and wrong in the world," Potvin said.

"There is beauty and good too. And when we are doing these physical escapades we have been able, in a small way, to address the injustice and bring a small amount of good and beauty into the world."

For more information about the run, and to donate to the cause, go to mullychildrensfamily.org.

eferguson@postmedia.com 

source : Calgary SUN
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