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Lake Oswego runners brave 'dangers' to raise funds for schoolchildren in Africa



It's not often that a run through the woods behind Uplands Elementary School involves dodging snakes and elephants, but that's what awaited the dozens of participants Saturday in the 2017 Run to Mtulu.

The critters weren't real, of course, but they were a reminder of the dangers faced by Kenyan students every day just to get to school. And that was the whole idea of the run: to raise awareness about life in small African villages and raise money to help ease those struggles.

"I want everyone who attends the event to see that our cumulative effort can make a great difference in the world," says run organizer Missy McConkie. "My hope is that each person leaves with a little more awareness and appreciation for all that we have here."

Each year, the run is designed to benefit a different cause in partnering communities in Kenya. The recipients are decided by the Kenyan board of directors of Lake Oswego-based Kenya Keys, who have firsthand knowledge of where the money would be best directed.

Last year, the funds helped to build a classroom in Mtulu; this year, the run will benefit the building of a dormitory at the Taru Girls High School, which is overcrowded, underfunded and in serious need of both a new dorm and a classroom.

Saturday's event raised more than $5,300 toward that effort, and McConkie says she's both grateful to all who participated and inspired by the community's generosity.

"Things have a way of rippling outward," she says, "and I think this will continue to spread in ways we couldn't even have imagined."

— The Review

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