Haiti Marathon Story 2011

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Making Progress

Let's take a look at the different ministries we have going on in Haiti!

Haiti Teacher Salaries

For over 2 years we have been able to support monthly salaries for 26 teachers at Sur Le Rocher.  The cost to do this is $1,906 a month, which is an average of $70 a month per teacher.  This program is in great jeopardy now.  We have been able to raise approximately $800 a month toward the $1,906, but because we are running a $12,000 deficit each year, our church must decide whether we can continue this program.  I personally am not giving up on these teachers and the students they educate.  If we stop funding this program, not only will 26 teachers and their families have to deal with the effects of unemployment in a struggling country, but 816 children who have counted on this free school will no longer have the opportunity to be educated.  If every one of my Facebook friends donated just $2.00 a month, this program would be fully funded.  It's been difficult for me to find ways to get the word out.  If you are reading this, please help me spread the word.  Let's keep this vital ministry going! Donations can be made directly on my blog.

The Stephane Project

We also recently started the "Stephane Project" for Stephane Noel who is a graduate of Univers high school in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. Everyone who has met Stephane has fallen in love with him. For over a year we tried to secure funding for him to continue his education in the U.S., but very few scholarships were available and it was just too expensive.  The small team of runners and volunteers who traveled to Haiti in January for the 2012 Haiti Marathon decided to establish the "Stephane Project" in an effort to fund Stephane’s education in the Dominican Republic.  He would like to study Agriculture at the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) which is the oldest university in the Western hemisphere. The web site is http://uasd.edu.do/.  Stephane needs approximately $7,000 per year in order to graduate from this university.  If you are interested in being part of this amazing journey, please email me at: restorehaiti@yahoo.com.   There will soon be a new blog with photos, videos, and updates so you can follow Stephane on his journey to earn a college degree.  We will actually be able to watch Stephane's family dream come true, for one child from their home to graduate from college…if we are able to help him by funding his education.  Consider joining us today~

The Haiti Marathon 

Be on the lookout for some exciting news about the next Haiti Marathon.  This exciting annual event is branching out into its own Non-Profit organization, and more importantly, we are going global!  All further marathon information and updates will be posted on the new website and blog.  This is incredible!  This year we raised nearly $10,000 for the educational needs of two wonderful schools in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.  We are donating 10% locally to the William Caviness Fund.  See the older post below for information about this fund.  The remaining portion of funds will be divided between two schools: Sur Le Rocher and Univers School.  Sur Le Rocher is the school where our teacher salary program is functioning.  They will use funds to purchase new desks for the children and to pay the 2012 taxes for the school.  Money donated toward the operating fund at Univers School will help students like Stephane to obtain a top notch education, so we are thrilled to support what they are doing.  Thank you to everyone who has supported the Haiti Marathon, and remember…be on the lookout for a big announcement coming soon! You’ll be amazed to hear about the incredible new direction this ministry is taking.

Finally, I’m considering the possibility of taking a team of dancers to Ouanaminthe, Haiti to lead a hip-hop & break dance camp for a week.  I will share more about this opportunity in the coming weeks.

Many blessings and thanks,
Martha Walker

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not letting go...

I have learned much in the last 4 years... I have learned that not everyone will share my passion for seeing children in Ouanaminthe, Haiti find hope through education.

 I get it...

I do however know that some will understand the level of hope these Haitian children and teachers have in a brighter tomorrow through education.

I do know that some Americans are willing to help, whether through prayer, financial support or encouragement.  Some will not.

Will you?

I can't do this alone, but my son ""Wilderson" is counting on this hope..........

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year everyone!  When I think of how we are just 11 days away from our journey to Haiti, I lose my breathe a bit.  The week long trip includes the annual Marathon and awesome field day for the children in the community.  We will also spend an entire day with the children at the orphanage.  We have the privilege of  taking these precious kids to Fort Liberte for an adventurous field trip along the ocean..  The time spent with them is a complete treasure.

As the 2011 fundraising efforts are coming to an end, I want to send a personal thank you to everyone who donated, encouraged, spread the word, or simply said a prayer.  Every person is involved and important!  In just 3 weeks, we will decide if there will be a 3rd annual Haiti Marathon.  I can assure you the planning and preparation for everyone involved is a challenge and takes much dedication.  However the end results are priceless.  The teachers and children in the schools benefit.  The runners and volunteers who commit to going to Haiti are transformed by the beauty of Haiti and the people they meet.  Most importantly, the community itself is one step closer to more educated children, which is our main goal.  Thank you for supporting this cause.  We could not do this without you!  We will begin taking registration for our 2013 runners once our decision is made. I can promise you one thing---It's quite a ride! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Dreaded Donate Button

Well, it has only taken us 8 months to get the darn Donate button to work!  Please accept my personal apologies for all of you generous souls who like me, don't have time to write a check.  Thank you so much for supporting our cause whether through donations, prayers, or supplies. We could not do this without YOU.  Be sure to check back soon as I will introduce you to our team of 12 heading to Haiti this January for the 2nd annual Ouanaminthe Haiti Marathon.  We are counting down the days.  We have the possibility of 30 Haitian runners who are anticipating our arrival to make a difference in the local children's lives.  You are part of the hope!  Thank you again...Martha

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicago Marathon 2011

This past Sunday, I ran the Chicago Marathon as a training run for a future race. Normally, I would have my game face on. I would pick out the perfect outfit. I would fill my belt with the right amount of gels and shot blocks to finish in the best time possible. This time, not so much. I decided to run the Chicago Marathon the night before. I have to admit, I obtained a bib from a fellow runner who had decided not to run, and showed up Sunday morning ready for whatever came my way. This Sunday afternoon, I would see the simpler side of the Chicago marathon. I would dance, laugh, play, jump off course for slurpees after mile 10, and simply walk and walk some more. I would absorb the enthusiasm of novice runners determined to finish this hard earned goal. I would joyfully run to the finish line welcoming the coolness of the finishers medal upon my neck.... It was my favorite run ever! Returning home, I heard of a fellow runner, a young man named William Caviness, who had fallen unconscious just 500 yards from the finish. Sadly, he was pronounced dead at a local hospital just hours following the race. How could this be? Please Lord, i hope the family was spared the pain of watching this take place... I can't begin to imagine how this family will find peace in such a painful situation. It's now Tuesday and I have spent the last two days reading about William's life. He was firefighter with a beautiful family. He had a passion for running and a heart for burn victims. His life ended much too soon. This marathon was his attempt to bring attention and funding toward the needs of burn victims, whereby bringing simple delight and happiness to people he cared for. It reminded me of our son Jonathan who passed 14 years ago last month. After battling a rare heart condition for 11 sweet months, we too said goodbye to that beautiful face forever. In spite of Jonathan's short life, he brought a sense of overwhelming joy to everyone he met. The Haiti marathon was born out of Jonathan's memory. Having visited Haiti for the first time 4 years ago, it did not take much to realize that hunger, inequality and poverty DOES have a cure. Unlike our son's rare heart defect, we could make a difference in these children's lives. With this understanding, the Inaugural Haiti Marathon took place this past January 2011. We race to bring hope to the children of Haiti. We join efforts with the local Haitian runners to remind the world that education is a gift which everyone deserves. As we begin to put this race together for January 2012, I can't help but feel moved to donate a portion of our proceeds towards Williams cause...We don't raise much, but every cent counts... I have decided to donate 10% of our Haiti marathon funds toward Williams passion for burn victims. Please see the video and photos below for more information, but more importantly, please help us make this event a success! Donations can be made to: OSUMC Attn: Martha Walker-Restore Haiti Marathon 701 E Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg, IL 60194 All donations are tax deductible. If you are interested in running with us in Haiti this January please contact me, at restorehaiti@yahoo.com May you rest in peace William.... May your family find comfort in those who will hold them tightly in the coming days. Many blessings, Martha Walker

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words...

2010 Inagural Ouanaminthe, Haiti Marathon
We raised just about $18,000 to support education in this community. We are preparing for the 2011 year. Taking 15 runners if you are interested! Contact us as: restorehaiti@yahoo.com
To support this cause donations can be sent to:
Our Saviour's Church
Restore Haiti Marathon
701 E Schaumburg Road
Schaumburg, IL 60194
Checks payable to: OSUMC with Haiti Marathon in the memo.
"Lace Up For Learning!"

Monday, February 21, 2011

Haiti Marathon Reflections by Mark Francis

Hello my name is Mark. I was one of the participants and helped with some of the organizing in the Inaugural Ouanaminthe Haiti marathon. I have been running for the past 12 years, primarily distance. I have run 16 marathons and this would be my 9th ultra marathon.

It was a very warm Thursday afternoon. The date was August 6th 2009. My phone rings; it's my running partner Martha. “Did you not get my texts?? I have this crazy idea! I want to run a marathon in Haiti and I want you to run it with me.” The race would ultimately be a fund raising tool for a school in this city of 100,000. They have had 20,000 people recently relocate from Port Au Prince after the earthquake.

What a unique opportunity to do something no one has ever done before. Run a marathon, okay an ultra marathon, in a developing country, who could you say no to this? From the time we decided to do this event, till the morning of the race, about a year and a half had gone by and many things have happened to this very poor country. They have experienced a devastating earthquake, an outbreak of Cholera and political unrest. Our 7 athletes and families did not feel quite as secure as they did when they first signed up for this.

The race course consisted of four 7.5 mile loops, from the center of town out to the country and back. The streets in the town were cobblestone, and the rest were dirt with some hills. There were three aid stations with bottled water on the course. The weather at the start of the race was overcast and 75 degrees, giving way to sun shine and upper 80's. This is an island in the tropics with lush green fields and mountain views at the far end of the course. This is truly the most scenic course I have ever run in the month of January. There were 22 athletes in all, 15 of which were Haitian. The race was won by a young man named Stephane. For his hard work he received a first place medal and $100. Our hopes are that one day soon we will be able to continue Stephane's education in the United States . There was an awards ceremony the evening of the race. There was also very positive feedback from the community about the event. We are in the planning stages for the "2nd Annual Ouanaminthe, Haiti Ultra Marathon" -with a marathon option.

This was truly a unique life changing experience to have traveled to a foreign land, run an ultra marathon with my best friends, and make new ones along the way

A special thanks to Martha, this experience has touched my heart and in a way changed my life.

Robin Platt Recalls The Haiti Marathon Day

Saturday, January 8, 2011;

The walk to the start took about 15 minutes and allowed us to warm up. I was feeling good. My achilles and left calf were tight but not too sore today. This stayed consistent throughout the marathon but never got any worse. That was good.

We wished all the Haitians good luck ‘Bonne chance’. Two were wearing deck shoes, one had flat bottom Keds, several wore soccer shoes and the rest had some level of running shoe. All wore basketball shorts that were almost knee length. They were all excited. By 8:45 everyone was ready and we were off.

The Haitians started fast but a big group soon settled into a 9 – 9 ½ minute mile pace. By mile 2 our group was split. Jerry and Laurie were out front with the Haitians followed by Dorothy and I. We still had them in sight but have lost sight of the group behind us; Mark, Martha, Jacob and Andy.

Half way around the 1st loop I was in the exact situation I didn’t want to be in; running alone in Haiti and not knowing the course. We were also heading out of town so it was getting sparse. I had kept a Haitian in sight so I would know when to turn. I stayed with him until we completed the full 1st loop and then I waited for Martha and her group.

There was only one time when I was a little concerned, but that was because I’m not yet comfortable in this environment. A woman and man were coming down the street towards me. She was yelling something in Creole. I believe it was to someone behind me but she was looking in my direction. He was following a little behind her and holding something that was dragging along the ground. As they got closer I realized he was holding a machete and the tip was dragging along the ground. The machete is a primary tool for them to do yard, field and other work. I’m just not used to people carrying them down the street.

As we ran many of the children would yell ‘Blanco’ and all the children in the area would come running because ‘Blanco’ meant ‘White’. Apparently they rarely see white people and they seemed to enjoy it for the novelty. That happened throughout the race and whenever we walked around town. We were all running good but at a slow, comfortable 12 minute mile pace. I was fine with that. I was enjoying the experience and didn’t see the need to push. I was surprised that everything was going so smoothly. All my concerns about last night’s changes were unjustified. Everything was fine.

We caught the Haitian I had run the 1st loop with about ¾ of the way around the 2nd loop. His calf was severely cramping. I had noticed he wasn’t drinking enough when we ran together and gave him ½ a water bottle then. He wasn’t going to be able to run much further. Hopefully all the Haitians were not having the same problem.

Mark, Martha and Jacob said they didn’t see the water stop at the end of the 1st loop so I said I’d show it to them at the police station/play ground. When we got there the table and all the water was gone. We then noticed that the children in the playground all seemed to have water bottles. Haitians generally drink water from small packages about the size of a sandwich bag, so we knew those must be our water bottles. Now starting our 3rd loop I was a little concerned. What if all the water stations were out of water? We were also heading away from town and there wouldn’t be stores to buy water (none of us had any money, anyway).

We were now walking some. Jacob wanted to start a run/walk. I didn’t mind and was still concerned about the water. About two miles out of town, Hughes came by on a motorcycle and went to get supplies. After that all the water stations were stocked and water wasn’t an issue anymore. Even the police station stop was restocked.

This was Jacob’s first marathon and he was now digging deep. He was a real trooper and just kept pushing forward. The lead Haitian was Stephen, who had impressed us all when we met Thursday. He passed us at the 1st water station on our 3rd loop. Two other Haitians were close behind. Jerry and Laurie met up with us at around the 2nd water station. Dorothy had run with them for just a short time. We met up with her at the police station. She had been running with the oldest Haitian. They both spoke some Spanish and communicated a little.

Our last 5 miles were; run a mile then walk a mile, which seemed to work best for Jacob. At mile 25 Meredith (Jacob’s wife) showed up and was able to run the last mile with him. It was a great experience for us all to see him achieve his goal. After completing the marathon Jacob and I jumped on a Willio’s motorcycle and headed home – no reason for more. Martha and Mark found Andy and finished with him.

This was a great experience. It was an amazing group and everyone got along even with the challenges we faced.

A lot of the talk on the way home was what to do now that we’ve had the ‘Haitian’ experience. Jackie mentioned she wants to help Stephen get into a US College. Martha, Meredith and Christy will surely continue their aid to the schools and orphanage. Hope Chest, Tom’s organization, will start helping manage the orphanage. The rest of us will just need to figure our next steps.

We had a very good beef stew and heard about the finish from Jerry and Laurie, who were already cleaned up. Stephen was the new Haitian ‘Rock Star’ for winning the race. I was in bed by 7:30 resting but didn’t sleep well. I was cramping. Don’t know why???

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Haiti Marathon

I am often asked why not just run a marathon here and send more money to Haiti. It would seem to many that monies used to travel to Haiti would be better used if sent directly to the organizations we are currently supporting. I hope to change peoples understanding toward the benefit of a “relational” ministry as opposed to simply sending a check. The 20 participants traveling to Haiti in January 2011 will have an opportunity to meet the children and adults we are serving. In addition, the community of Ouanaminthe will have the chance to meet and embrace the runners and volunteers who participating in this event. This “partnership” is extremely important and I feel is often overlooked. There is simply no value one can put on forming relationships within an organization that hopes to continue helping to educate children. This inaugural Ouanaminthe Marathon is not your typical 26.2 race. We have all agreed to run this as a “run of solidarity” for the cause at hand. Regardless of what pace we have completed in the past, we plan to run together as much as possible. We anticipate children in the community running along side of us during small stretches of the total distance. We understand we will be coming from winter weather into the challenging heat of the Caribbean. This run is not about us, it’s about them, the children of Ouanaminthe. We have a $50,000 goal. At this point we have raised $7000. We are not discouraged by this current total as we agree that every dollar raised is a gift from our supporters. Our main goal is to bring attention to the need for better education in Haiti. In a country often described as extremely dependent, we hope to help them to begin raising a generation of Haitian children who can embrace the independence they so eagerly desire. We currently have 11 runners confirmed to run this event. Having met with the Mayor of Ouanaminthe, he insists there will be several Haitian participants eager to join us. We will be hosting a small track and field day during our time in Ouanaminthe in which the people of the community will have an opportunity to win small prizes. This is very exciting to us! Combined participation at whatever level, further supports the idea of partnership. We are intentionally avoiding any type of superior approach, and simply offering to support the efforts already in place to see the children of Haiti receive the education they desire. The course is a 15 kilometer loop. We will have to adjust accordingly to make it 26.2 give or take a few points. Accuracy is not a priority to us. It would be silly to say the run is flat since even well paved roads in Ouanaminthe are few and far between. This route will mirror a more trail like run. This run will offer the hustle and bustle of the city of Ouanaminthe, the friendly surroundings of the suburbs, as well as the beauty and splendor of the countryside. With the exception of one small hill in this loop, there are very little climbs to write home about. I think our biggest challenge will be preventing sprained ankles on the very uneven terrain of the route. We anticipate temperatures in the 60 degree range during our 6 am start and somewhere in the 80 degree range at our finish. We have two trucks which have been assigned to follow runners to offer liquids and gels when needed. There is little to no shade during the route, which we are fully aware of, however any plans to run this for time have been put aside to make this more about the kids we are serving. Ouanaminthe is in the North East part of Haiti directly on the border of the Dominican Republic. It is home to approximately 100,000 people, but since the January earthquake, has seen a steady increase in population as the displaced find new areas to call home. Our team is traveling for a total of six days. We will spend three and a half days in Haiti and the remainder of the time traveling in and out through the Dominican Republic. Our food and lodging needs are being cared for by one of the schools we are supporting. Each runner has been responsible for paying all of their own travel, food, and lodging costs in addition to raising support toward our $50,000 goal. While many of the runners may be encouraged to being helping transform the educational conditions of children in this community, I think they will be very surprised at how transforming this trip will be to them personally. In a country where struggle and challenge are an everyday part of life, one thing you will not see is discouragement. The people of Haiti are strong in spirit and simply put… filled with Joy. It is a country which teaches us volumes about how dependent we have become on “things” to make us happy. Here one can learn to find delight in having little. Still, one can’t help being affected by the lack of food, water, shelter, and education facing children and adults on a daily basis. Compassion is defined as being aware of anothers suffering and DOING something about it. I want to move people beyond empathy to compassion. I would love to say these runners will be forever changed by the people they meet, the children they hold, and the community the serve alongside. If you feel moved to support this cause, please do so. We need your help.