Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Many Miles, Many Smiles

Your passion can carry you a long way. Just ask Stratford High School senior MaKayla Lara, who walked more than 100 miles from Sealy to Austin over Thanksgiving break.

Having traveled to Nicaragua with Amigos for Christ for the past two summers, Lara decided to make her senior Academy of Science and Engineering (ACE) project into a medical supplies fundraiser.

Amigos for Christ is a nonprofit organization that operates out of Buford, Ga., and has a base in Chinandega, Nicaragua. This nonprofit focuses on strengthening families without resources through programs in community development, health, education, water and sanitation, small business, and spirituality programs in rural communities.

“I choose to combine my two loves — the medical field and the people of Nicaragua — into a fundraiser that can make a difference in the lives of others. The Amigos for Christ medical staff will be using the money raised to purchase important medical equipment such as ultrasound machines for local Nicaraguan hospitals,” said Lara.

Lara’s parents switched off walking 13-17 miles a day with her for a total of eight days. She reached the University of Texas tower in downtown Austin on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 31.

Stratford High ACE sponsor and science teacher Davy Barrett is proud of everything Lara has already accomplished through her senior project.

“I think MaKayla’s project is awesome; it is amazing to watch her passion and love for people change lives,” Barrett said.

Lara’s 114-mile journey may have officially started on Saturday, Nov. 24, but the planning began almost a year in advance.

For safety, Lara mapped out a route from Sealy to Austin made up of mostly country back roads and received permission to take two days off from school to walk.

Using, a website specifically created for people to give back through donations, Lara set up an official fund for her project called “Many Miles, Many Smiles: Medical Messengers.” The online profile opened up for donations on Oct. 11 and will remain open until Lara completes her project at the end of the school year in May.

“My family, friends and I have shared the website with anyone and everyone. I personally want people to donate because I have seen how badly these people need our help with my own eyes; hospitals in Nicaragua are nothing like hospitals here — resources are scarce and procedures are undeveloped,” said Lara.

In addition to the completed walk to Austin, Lara will also be selling specially designed fundraiser T-shirts, bracelets and an array of jewelry made by Nicaraguan women through the Amigos for Christ small business outreach. The merchandise will be sold at Stratford High prior to winter break.

Having already raised more than $5,000 in donations for her cause, Lara is hoping to reach her goal of $25,000 when she completes her fundraiser at the end of the school year.

To help MaKayla, please visit where donations can be made. According to the nonprofit organization, 100 percent of proceeds go directly to Amigos for Christ for medical equipment.

This article was written and photographed by Communications Intern Kali Venable


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