Having visited South Africa several times to run the Comrades and Two Oceans ultra marathons, I've seen first hand some of the issues the society faces, including the high rate of infection for AIDS.
Therefore I'm dedicating all my efforts in races in 2011 to helping to raise awareness for the Starfish Greathearts Foundation, which my North Face team-mate, Kami Semick, brought to my attention last year (for UK residents, you can donate on this page. More details about the work the charity undertakes are included below.
Although I race a lot, the main efforts for charity this year include the following:
Napa Valley Marathon (running as Spiderman)
Miwok 100k (running as Elvis)
Comrades (no costume this time, but maybe one year)
Western States 100 miler (no costume)
Seattle Half Marathon (Elvis again)
Starfish Greathearts Foundation
South Africa has the highest population of AIDS/HIV infected adults. As a result, there are more than 2 million orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa. 450 new orphans a day! One program in particular, the Vukukhanye program, supports orphaned and vulnerable children in the town of Chesterville. Chesterville is visible from Comrades race course.
The highest rate of HIV infection in the WORLD is in KwaZula Natal region, which is the area surrounding the Comrades Marathon course. Forty percent of the adult population is HIV positive. Interestingly, over 90% of the children orphaned by this epidemic are NOT HIV positive. Because of the high rate of adult infections, the area surrounding the race course has the highest rate of orphans in the world.
Vukukhanye’s primary focus is the care and support of orphans and vulnerable children, a majority of which are under five years old. Vukukhanye, which means “Arise and Shine” in Zulu, supports 287 children, and the organization plans to increase its reach to at least 1,350 within three years.
“Arise and Shine” reflects the people’s optimistic hope for the community of Chesterville and also their country, the hope that they will arise and shine and be examples to the world.
Listen to George tell his story of how a trickle of orphans turned into a tidal wave, and how he has worked with Starfish to support one community hit hard by AIDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrgdwRLNoG0&feature=channel
Meet Carol, who herself cares for 97 children, and is the founder of Ikageng Itireleng, one of the projects that Starfish supports http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYOEU8CJuJ4&feature=channel
By supporting Starfish- we can ensure that these children get life, hope and opportunity to make something of their lives and become contributing members of their communities.
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