Free to Run at forefront of promoting inclusivity in sports
May 22, 2017
BENEFITING: Free To Run Inc.
EVENT DATE: May 14, 2017
Here in America, we take our ability to run and participate in sports for granted. In places like Afghanistan, women and girls who go out for a run or engage in a sport might be stoned, called a prostitute, or threatened and harassed in other ways.
This spring, through mid-May 2017, I've committed to raise $10,000 to support an organization changing the lives of young women—and the cultural attitudes toward them—by promoting tolerance, equality, health and empowerment for women in conflict-affected communities where cultural attitudes and violence inhibit women from taking part in sports and outdoor adventure. Free to Run, a nonprofit formed in 2014 by my friend Stephanie Case, an ultrarunner and humanitarian, is making significant progress to change women's lives and their place in society. Please read my blog post for the full story on this organization and why I'm supporting them.
Free to Run has provided the training, encouragement and security for many women to run marathons and 10Ks in Afghanistan and to participate in other sports, and it's also helping female refugees in Hong Kong.
If you join me in supporting Free to Run, your donation will be used to help girls from different provinces in Afghanistan come together to run, to learn new sports and to experience the outdoors in a safe environment. With more money, more women in Afghanistan can get outside to hike, and train to run a 10K or marathon—bridging gender and ethnic divides in the process. How awesome is that?
From May 14 - 20, I will face the most difficult athletic challenge yet in 23 years of long-distance running: the Mauna to Mauna Ultra, a 250K (155 mile) six-stage, self-supported race on the Big Island of Hawaii. My stage-racing inspiration is fueled in part by Stephanie Case, whom I met on my first stage race five years ago. Recently, Stephanie gave a TedTalk in which she said, "The things that I am most proud of in life are things that started out as crazy and impossible ideas," and she cited founding Free to Run as "a crazy and impossible" idea she made a reality.
“Free to Run is about more than sports,” says Stephanie. “People think we are out there just playing games, but in places like Afghanistan, the simple act of hiking or running outside, for women and girls, is a powerful thing. We believe through sports that women and girls can reclaim public space and ultimately change the ways society views the role of females.”
Kubra, age 26, was one of five women to run the 2016 Marathon of Afghanistan and now mentors others. She said, "As a woman in my home country, I never had the chance to run outside, on the roads, or anywhere. But Free to Run gave me the chance to experience running without barriers. ... I want to open these same roads to my daughters, granddaughters and so many other women out there who want to run like any other individual in society. When I run I feel free.”
Please join me in helping Free to Run strengthen its impact to change Afghanistan and to develop in other regions that also need it support. Running and sports have the power to bring out the best in people, and to form bridges over deep divisions. By supporting Free to Run, you'll not only change the lives of the participants for the better, but also, promote peace, health and tolerance in societies suffering from conflict and repression.
Read the mission on Free To Run's website.