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Kate Stence's Fundraising Extravaganza
Comrades Marathon 85th Anniversary: 56 Miles of Hope!
Khadi and SIsulu-Walker Head Coach and Teacher Ms. Cavaliere cross the finish line at Asphalt Green in Manhattan. All fifteen girls completed the Girls on the Run Manhattan Spring 2010 5K.
Girls on the Run International and SoleMates are a beloved nonprofit and charity organization that promote healthy living for young girls. Their motto: Learn. Dream. Live. Run. So I do. Most importantly, I help young girls do the same.

This spring I'm coaching a group of fifteen girls who want to work on positive self body image and releasing energy at The Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem, New York State's first charter school. The school itself is named for Walter Sisulu who is known as the father of the South African anti-apartheid liberation movement. Sisulu was responsible for recruiting Nelson Mandela into the African National Congress (ANC) in the 1940s and together they transformed the ANC into the most important human and civil rights organization that fought for the liberation of black South Africans. Dr. Wyatte Tee Walker is a renowned pastor, author, lecturer and advocate for human and civil rights. He served as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the critically important years of the American civil rights movement.

On May 30, 2010, I will take part in Comrades 85th Marathon a 12 hour endurance race in South Africa that covers 56 miles of earth! Please sponsor me in this endeavor. Everything I raise will go toward sustaining and growing Girls on the Run International as an organization as well as the team at Sisulu-Walker.

Date: Sunday, 30 May 2010.

Start: 05h30 at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg.

Finish: 17h30 at Sahara Stadium, Kingsmead in Durban.

Distance: 89km – 56 miles.

***SISULU-WALKER'S POST-RACE SPLENDOR AND SOUTH AFRICA'S HOPE FOR POST-WORLD CUP***

On Sunday, June 6th at 10 AM, one week after I completed the 85th Comrades Marathon here in South Africa for Girls on the Run International and SoleMates, hundreds of young runners took to the streets of Manhattan and ran their 5 K after completing the Girls on the Run training program. My team at Sisulu-Walker was part of this magic and every single girl crossed that finish line a champion!

I share this with you today because South Africa usually holds Comrades Marathon on June 16, yet I write to you from Cape Town, South Africa where I am almost recovered from the May 30 race. According to Wikipedia, “In 2007, the Comrade’s race organisers (controversially) bowed to political pressure from the ANC Youth League, who felt that the race diverted attention from the significance of Youth Day, and changed the race date.”

This year the World Cup is here and the momentum of it rises daily, yet the significance and importance of Youth day remains incredibly important and hopefully heard and acknowledged. This day commemorates the Soweto uprising or Soweto riots. These were protests in Soweto, South Africa on June 16, 1976 between black youths and the South African authorities. The riots grew into violence because students were rising against the policies of the National Party government and its apartheid regime.

Today Youth day is part of a moment in South African history that they hope will bring their country into the world as the highly capable, professional, loving, and friendly country that it truly is! I have met some of the kindest people here in this country, but scratch under the surface a bit and there still lies the very real after-effects of being held down by a racist regime for so long. I have lived in a world of surprise these past weeks, as I have seen finally with my own eyes what compassion and care can create and what leftover subjugation brings as well. South Africa has built so hard for the 2010 World Cup yet still reports come from the United Nations about human rights violations. The question for me has been as I working on my own article about youth health, sporting dreams, and gender relations was: how has this World Cup affected girls and youth?

I quoted in my last email the statistics that young girl’s face here that flew through my head and kept me going as I ran Comrades. “18 million orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 14.1 million children estimated to have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Four of five young girls raped in the Congo. As a whole, women account for approximately 60% of estimated HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are the statistics that flew around in my head as I ran my way to Durban holding these girls' hands for brief seconds.” This is a country that needs attention and these girls need our help. I saw with my own eyes in New York’s East Harlem last year and then West Harlem this year what hope and health can give to young girls.

In Rich Daly’s article “Sex Traffic Rises, Along With Scramble for Solutions” released today via Women’s e-News there is hope for girls in that during this World Cup, “major media outlets such as ESPN News are devoting special coverage to the problem of sex trafficking at the big soccer match and Hollywood celebrities are lending their voices to the anti-trafficking cause… and the ongoing challenges of international trafficking were highlighted June 14 by the State Department's annual release of trafficking figures, which estimated 12.3 million adults and children were trafficked in 2009, at a rate of 1.8 people per 1,000 worldwide.”

In truth, I was interviewing with a writer who was covering me and my work for Girls on the Run last week and she asked for one of the most interesting or surprising thing one of my girls at Sisulu-Walker had said. I shared with her that Khadi is a twin and while I was telling all the girl’s at Sisulu-Walker that they all were going to get running journals, she asked for her running journal to have a lock. Issues of security I thought at first, but then I realized it was probably because she has shared everything with her twin sister, Oumu, all her life! In fact, 2010 Comrades Marathon Female Winner, Russian twins Elena Nurgalieva finished a second faster than her sister Olesya in a time of 6:13:04. In 2009, Olesya Nurgalieva won the 2009 women’s Comrades Marathon in 6:12.12 finishing a second faster than twin Elena. I look at a picture of Oumu and Khadi sometimes smiling and waving at me standing on a Central Park bench when I need inspiration, so I shared with the journalist that during one practice Khadi was enthralled with a man fishing in the Harlem Meer while we were training in Central Park. I kept reminding her of focus and that she was there to train. All of a sudden I realized she had a great love of water and nature which I deeply share as a runner so I asked her, “Have you ever seen the ocean?” She said no. I have promised myself that when I return to NYC I will check in with the team and make sure she has seen the ocean, if not run alongside it, and that I'll take her myself if she has not because she lives so close to the Atlantic.

In the meantime, I viewed the Atlantic Ocean from the top of Table Mountain. I ran that mountain for three or four hours on June 13, one week after my girl’s all finished their own race in ode to all of them for reaching their goals! Keep climbing and dreams come true. Let’s find a way for that to be the case for all girls, for all of us, in this shared world.

***KATE'S POST-RACE SPLENDOR***

On Sunday, May 30, I ran the ultimate human race, the 85th Comrades Marathon, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa for Girls on the Run International. As most know, 2010 is a huge year for South Africa as they are hosting the World Cup yet that morning nothing overshadowed the beauty of endurance running! I stood among 23,000 athletes and felt true care, camaraderie, nervousness, and the thrill that comes when finally facing a monumental goal and a realized dream. I was hope!

I had ridden the bus from Durban to the start line with a South African man who was running this Comrades for his 11th time. I asked him, you're part of the green mile club; you have your own number; you are the prestige. Why again? He told me it was for the love of it. I was utterly convinced the only thing that could stop me would be my heart problem, and even then I wondered if I would really stop.

We launched at 5:30:03 AM and for the next 11 hours I ran my soul out. I hugged little girls along the way, held their tiny hands, and said, "Live your dreams. Live them. Just keep going." They smiled. Some laughed. Some of their eyes lit up and in that moment I knew they heard me and I hoped that my words would return to them in a moment in their life when they truly needed to refresh them. 18 million orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 14.1 million children estimated to have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Four of five young girls raped in the Congo. As a whole, women account for approximately 60% of estimated HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are the statistics that flew around in my head as I ran my way to Durban holding these girls' hands for brief seconds. Feeling her hand. Seeing her face. The faces of the girls who are these numbers are just as cherished as the GOTR team at Sisulu-Walker who are about to run their first 5K on June 6, 2010. Guess who receives the next email to share that if I can run 90K then they can run 5K?

At 24 K/14 miles out, the heart issue came and it was here that I summoned all of the love and support each of you shared with me. The truth is: I was running this race for those girls and I had their energy carrying me through. I needed your love to make me slow down and make sure I didn't have tachycardia! I dropped back from the sub-11 group I had been moving in and out of the whole race after seeing my friend, Ahma(e)d, from the bus who introduced me to the group, said goodbye to the young man who was running in his bare feet, and ate a potato. I told my heart, you have 14 miles in you then I steadily made my way to Kingsmead Stadium in Durban where I finished in 11 hours and 4 minutes.

I learned out there what I already believe. We're all in it together in this world. I learned time and time again that by not competing with the person next to me but by being kind, caring, and positive even in the face of wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels and very serious prayers for a banana that I not only had more energy and hope but the runner next to me did as well. This is why I love this sport. Endurance running is about taking care of yourself and competing with your best. It's not reliant on taking down the person next to you. If he or she crosses the finish line beside me, we can both share in our achievement! We're out there together, both men and women, doing our best. How is that not a metaphor for how we should be living?

Yesterday I sat at the edge of the Indian Ocean with an ex-military officer who now goes into post-conflict zones to remove land mines. I met him because the security guard letting us onto the beach assumed I was with the British man as a woman traveling alone seems the same anomaly here as many other places. I sat and listened to the officer's stories about Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, all on or near the top of every human rights violation list I have ever read. I thought of the girls along the road, their eyes, their sweet little fingers and hands. We're all in this together.

You have all raised a significant amount of money for Girls on the Run International, a life-changing program that teaches young girls how to connect with their bodies and minds in true health. Be proud of you!

. : : Make a Contribution : : .

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Fundraising has ended.

Total Donations: $1,510.00
Contributor Amount Comment
Kate Stence $200.00
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Nicole Faraclas $20.00 "Bravo Katie. Bravo!!"
Jane Leibrock $20.00
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Sean Kenny $10.00 "You go girl, raise the roof!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Laure Zerbe $25.00 "Amazing!"
Jennifer Peterson $25.00
*
Laurin Becker $25.00
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Elise Schell $200.00
*
Andrea Focazio $25.00
*
Kari Brooks-Copony $50.00 "Best of luck!"
David Stence $25.00
*
Mary Keith Trawick $25.00 "56 miles of steps for Katie - a universe of change left in her wake. You amaze me!"
Ben Thornley $50.00
*
Lisa Wong $25.00
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Jenafir House $35.00 "you go, girl! and what an amazingly beautiful place to get to run...i want to hear all about it afterward/during, please send us an update..."
Pete Aylward $25.00 "Good luck Katie. You're truly an inspiration! "
Jane Schulman $100.00 "Kate, You go, girl!!!! From one of your Barnard Poetry Class writing buddies. Regards, Jane"
Sohini Kachhi $10.00
*
JJ Sheffer & Gary Gearhart $125.00 "We are so proud of you! Can't wait to hear how it goes and what you take away from it."
JEAN POLLACK $50.00 "Hi Katie Keep running to free the inner child in all of us! Jean"
Kristy Bodnar $100.00 "Run Rocket Run!"
Ciji Saso $25.00
*
Stephanie Mannino $50.00
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Daniel Cuddy $25.00
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David Stence $50.00
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Kelly Winquist $15.00 "Yay Katie!"
James Curran $50.00
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Dawn Hach $100.00 "So proud of you!"
Sean Kenny $25.00
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SoleMates is the charity running program for Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run is a life-changing, experiential learning program for girls age eight to thirteen years old. The programs combine training for a 3.1 mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. The goals of the programs are to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, and physical development. Our mission is to educate and prepare girls for a life time of self-respect and healthy living. Please check out our website at www.girlsontherunsolemates.org/.

To learn more about Girls on the Run SoleMates CLICK HERE

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