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Ava McGrail's Fundraiser:

Back To School! Spin for The Kololo School!

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EVENT: SoulCycle 2016

EVENT DATE: Oct 22, 2016

Ava McGrail


Julie Corby wrote -

Dear Friends,
Meazi and Melese have FINALLY gone back to school! Hallelujah! I thought this day would never come! Er, I mean… I’m going to miss them so much!

Now that I have a minute, my thoughts turn to the school in their Ethiopian village of Kololo. Most of you reading this email have been instrumental in the founding and the sustaining of The Kololo School, and know the whole story of how it came to be. For those of you who don’t, here is a very brief history:

In 2011 Meazi was sitting on the floor of her bedroom surrounded by books. She turned to me and said, “Mommy, can you believe in Ethiopia I never even had one book?” I thought of the rural village where she was born, and imagined thousands of bright eager kiddos just like her. How could it be that these children would never get a chance to hold a book of their own? I contacted a writer I knew who worked for Ethiopia Reads (Jane Kurtz) and asked her, “What would it take to build a library in Meazi and Melese’s village?” Two days later I got a call from Ethiopia Reads executive director (Dana Roskey) asking me, “If you are going to build a library, why don’t you build a school as well?”

And so we did, with the help of many of you. The Kololo School opened five years ago this month. Hundreds of children entered a classroom for the very first time; among them were Meazi and Melese’s biological siblings, their brother, and their sister. Their sister was 14 years old on her first day of kindergarten.

The school has come a long way. Improvements happen every year. Last year we were even able to offer a snack program for the first time. During a time of terrible drought and food insecurity, this small snack of bread and peanut butter was often the only food these children ate all day.

This month close to 300 more students with eager hearts and eyes wide open are back to school in Kololo. They study hard and dream of a brighter future.

This school has received praise from the local government and my hope is that in the next couple of years the government will take over the school’s operations and provide for all of the costs. Until then, it’s up to me! How will I keep this special place open? I truly believe it would be worse to have opened a school and have it close, then to never have put a school there in the first place. I would like to keep it going, but I need your help.

I’ve decided to throw a special SoulCycle fundraiser to raise the money, and I’d be so grateful if you would join me. The short spin class is on October 22, at 2:30pm, in Culver City. I need fifty-four riders. You needn’t be an athlete to participate. It’s just going to be a fun, fast, 45 minutes, followed by a reception that hopefully involves donuts. And beer. Well at the very least bagels. And water.

It’s easy to sign up. I will walk you through it, but you simply go to the grey FUNDRAISE FOR THIS CAMPAIGN button and you'll instantly have your own fundraising page as a part of the Team.

Upload a picture of your beautiful mug, and invite your friends and family to donate to your campaign. Each rider needs to raise a minimum of $250 to ride. That’s like asking 5 friends to give 50 bucks each. Easy!

Also, if you can’t make it that day, I’ve had a couple of people offer to be proxy riders (some loony gym rats who like to spend all of their time spinning on a stationary bicycle! God bless them! Where are they spinning to?!) So you can just sign up to ride, raise the wee minimum, and have someone do the sweating for you.

Don’t want to ride or raise money? That’s cool. No worries. You can still donate if you are able! Click on the orange donate button.

When Meazi told me that she wanted to ride, I got super excited thinking about all of the cool parents and kids that I know. Wouldn’t it be fun if you signed up for a bike and then your kiddo signed up for one too? (As long as they are 4’9 and eleven years old!) It takes a cute eleven-year old about 34 seconds to raise the minimum, I’ve discovered. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons! Entire families!

I spent a lot of last week worrying about school stuff for Meazi and Melese. Is Melese going to do violin again? What kind of running shoes does Meazi need for Cross Country? I purchased new clothes, backpacks, water bottles, books, and school supplies. I signed up for hot lunch on ‘backwards day’ so Melese could eat pancakes with his friends. I loaded up a food credit card for Meazi so she could buy any type of food she could possibly crave at her lunch hour.

How incredibly lucky I am that these are my tasks and concerns. I’m not wondering if they will have a school to go to. They have an amazing school to go to. I’m not concerned that they are hungry. I’m not worried that they don’t own a pair of shoes. They’ve had their yearly physicals, their teeth have been cleaned, and they’ve gotten haircuts. They have everything that they could possibly need and I’m so very grateful. Now if I could just secure the very basics for those other 300 beautiful, Ethiopian children, I’d sleep a lot better at night.

Thank you for helping. Please feel free to share this email.

 Love to all of you,

 And Cheers to Back to School!



The Kololo School was created by Ethiopia Reads for children living in hard-to-reach farming villages in the Kembata Tembaro Zone in South West Ethiopia (SNNPR).

Situated on a site only accessible from a dirt track road - to a point - and then by foot, the success of the project is due to perseverance and an ethic of team work between Ethiopia Reads staff and Kololo villagers.

Opened in 2012, the school now serves around 300 children, aged 4 to 11.

Ethiopia Reads has created a haven of fun learning for both the children and teachers at Kololo School.

Located away from the dusty roads, this school is built on a beautiful hillside and boasts large classrooms, a library, staff room, play area, a view to inspire and a student body that has grown by 400% since the school first opened. 

The Kololo School runs a non-formal education program, which means the schedule is built around community and familial needs, allowing children to help out during harvest season without disrupting their education.

Through the tireless efforts of Kololo School's supporters, we continue to improve and expand. This past year new pit latrines were constructed. We hope to see playground and a meal program soon.

Please ride with us at a special SoulCycle Ride to support The Kololo School on October 22, 2016 @ 2:30 pm. It’s easy to set up and join the team to  participate as a fundraiser for this worthy cause. Riders must raise a minimum of $250.00 to participate.​ 


If you are unable to ride, please consider making a donation.


October 22, 2016

2:30pm - 3:15pm

SoulCycle Culver City

8820 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

Complimentary reception to follow!

(Space is limited to the first 54 riders)

SoulCycle provides water and shoes.



To This Fundraiser


  • Ava McGrail


  • Ann Donahue


  • Donahue/McGrail family



Fundraise for this Campaign

The Team: $61,411 TOTAL RAISED SO FAR

Fundraiser Title

Gina Robins

Amount Raised


Fundraiser Title

Meazi Meazi

Amount Raised


Fundraiser Title

Julie Corby

Amount Raised



12% Raised of $50,000 Goal

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Amount Raised


Fundraiser Title

Jack Oshinsky

Amount Raised


Fundraiser Title

Lea Russo

Amount Raised


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Jaya Harper

Amount Raised


Fundraiser Title

Isabella Millman

Amount Raised


Donor Comments

Donahue/McGrail family

Donahue/McGrail family


2 years ago

Ann Donahue

Ann Donahue


2 years ago

Ava McGrail

Ava McGrail


2 years ago