Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Teen Runners Aid Kenyan Orphans

Two Memorial Middle School eighth-graders joined dozens of other young runners from the Memorial and Stratford communities during the recent Chevron Houston Marathon 5K to raise $12,500 and benefit hundreds orphans living in Nairobi, Kenya.

Memorial Middle School eighth-graders Avery Agosto and Katherine Kaiser led and helped organize a district-based team that raised funds during the Marathon weekend for Oasis for Orphans, which supports two orphanages in Kenya’s major city.

Joining Agosto and Kaiser and two dozen other Memorial and Stratford area teenagers Jan. 18 in the Marathon 5K was Kenyan runner Sarah Kiptoo, a world-class marathoner. Also supporting their cause was Kenyan runner Pius Ondoro. The Kenyan runners raced in the Jan. 19 Marathon.

The spirited middle school runners and budding philanthropists were joined by 34 district runners in all, including 10 Memorial Middle students, eight Stratford High students and a Memorial High student supporter.

The group ran with bright orange T-shirts that proclaimed, “We Run for Kenya.” All the young SBISD runners finished the recent Marathon 5K with times that ranged from 32 to 45 minutes, and all crossed the finish line with smiles, reported parent Craig Kaiser.

The student fund-raising team totally swept past their initial goal of raising $3,000, with students themselves raising more than $6,000 of the $12,500 total. Donations can still be made online for several weeks.

Katherine Kaiser and Avery Agosto chose to do their part for Kenyan orphans as Team Oasis leaders in Houston. Oasis for Orphans is a faith-based, Chicago charity with a small local support group.

According to newspaper accounts, Oasis currently serves 151 orphans in Kenya, including a dormitory facility in Nairobi. The charity is in the process of building a family-style home to serve 50 more children.

Avery, Katherine and a family member raised $3,000 for the charity several years ago by conducting a “Chicken Dance” to support chicken coops for the Nairobi orphanage. Kenya reportedly has more than two million orphans due to a series of natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and national turmoil.

“It’s pretty great how all our friends are ready to pitch in and help us. We feel pretty good about it,” Katherine told the Houston Chronicle newspaper.

Team Oasis Director Kim Huffman told the newspaper that she was totally impressed to see teenagers running for orphans who live an ocean away.

“It’s a pretty powerful connection when kids in America who have everything can give of themselves and do something hard and sacrificial for the sake of kids in Kenya,” she said.

Elite runner Sarah Kiptoo was eager to meet the SBISD teens. “I feel so good and happy because they’re helping our people,” Kiptoo told the Houston Chronicle. “We appreciate and are happy to know that there are other people that care for us.”


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