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Uplands to host fun run for Kenya Keys

Run to Mtulu will help local students better understand the lives of their African counterparts

SUBMITTED PHOTO: BRETT HAYES - Run to Mtulu figures to be another big success at Uplands Elementary School on Saturday. Shown at last year's event are runners Aliya DiVergilio (left) and Grant Wise. Wearing the elephant mask is Hannah Negri.SUBMITTED PHOTO: MEGAN HITCHCOCK - A young Kenyan student practices his writing at school in Taru, Kenya.Students at Uplands Elementary School will raise money for their counterparts in Africa on Saturday at the Run to Mtulu.

The event, which is scheduled to start at 3 p.m., is a fundraiser for Kenya Keys, a Lake Oswego-based organization that for more than 10 years has attracted sponsorships from hundreds of people and transformed a school district in one of the poorest, driest countries in Africa.

Event organizer Missy McConkie, a Lake Oswego mother of three school children, says she’s inspired by the way kids who live across the world from each other have connected.

“We want our kids to realize what a big, diverse world we live in,” McConkie says. “But we play with our friends, love our families and study math and reading just like children on the other side of the world.”

The Run to Mtulu combines a one-mile fun run with hands-on learning, healthy snacks, a dessert silent auction and a raffle. Along the run route, there will be information booths and a self-guided Pop Jaribio (quiz) to engage and challenge young minds. Participants will also hear firsthand stories about Mtulu from local residents who have been there.

“Kenya Keys believes so strongly that our local kids can learn so much from the students in Kenya who overcome such extreme odds to stay in school,” says Rinda Hayes, executive director of Kenya Keys. “Lake Oswego students don’t realize that they are some of the luckiest kids in the world because they have such easy access to information and have so many opportunities to learn. It’s the very ease and abundance of it all that makes it so readily taken for granted.”

The objective is to help Lake Oswego students identify with the experiences of Kenyan children, who must deal with a variety of real-life hazards every day, and to show how much of a difference they can make in the lives of others.

“This is all about growing awareness,” McConkie says. “When kids see things with new eyes, they become grateful for things they have taken for granted. Their perspective shifts, and because of that, they will approach everything differently — their world, community and self.”

The is the second year for the Run to Mtulu, which last year was held at River Grove Elementary School and raised $1,700 to support a village school in a Kenyan village. This year, McConkie says the goal is for the event to raise more than $1,000 to build a new classroom for the school.

“The young students of rural Kenya who overcome hunger, distance and even danger to get to school remind us how fortunate we are,” Hayes says. “An event like the Run to Mtulu bridges the two worlds, educating students here, while also giving them the chance to help and show they care about the courageous students who awaken to the harsh challenges of poverty every day of their lives.”

To register for the run, go to crowdrise.com/runtomtulu2016. The fee is $16 per participant. Uplands Elementary is located at 2055 Wembley Park Road in Lake Oswego.

For more about Kenya Keys, go to www.kenyakeys.org.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..