Run Across Ethiopia

Claire Everhart ’10 prepares for ultra-marathon to help needy children

OWU alumna Claire Everhart is raising funds to help build schools in Ethiopia. She is one of nine athletes scheduled to participate in a Run Across Ethiopia marathon in January. (Photo by Sara Tincher)

Ohio Wesleyan University alumna Claire Everhart ’10 is gearing up to run 250 miles in 11 days across the southern part of Ethiopia. Everhart will fly to the African republic in January to participate in Run Across Ethiopia, but first must raise $15,000 to support the event’s philanthropic mission.

“The goal is to build schools in Ethiopia,” says Everhart, an international studies major and Spanish minor. She learned about the unique event while working at Global Village Collection, 37 N. Sandusky Street, a fair-trade gift store in downtown Delaware.

Two of the store’s suppliers, Higher Grounds Trading Company and Food for Thought, are participating in the project, which will raise $100,000 to build and supply schools in the fair-trade coffee-growing region of Yirgacheffe.

The run is being organized by On The Ground, the nonprofit arm of Higher Grounds. Money raised will support the Tesfa Foundation, which helps to feed, clothe, and educate homeless children, and the Oromia Cooperative Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU), a union of 129 fair-trade coffee cooperatives that represents nearly 800,000 families.

“The cooperative has built one school in the area, but it’s overflowing with more than 100 students and only two textbooks,” Everhart says. “The children need more schools.”

According to On The Ground, “little more than half the region’s children complete primary school. The adult literacy rate is 36 percent. Life expectancy is 53 years.”

Everhart says she’s inspired by the event’s educational mission and by the opportunity to see exactly how her financial contribution will be used.

“Going to Ethiopia, seeing the community, meeting the children—that’s powerful,” she says.

Everhart is one of nine runners scheduled to take part in the event, and the four-year Battling Bishop track and field letter-winner already has begun to train for the 25-mile-a-day marathon. OWU’s cross country head coach Matt Wackerly is helping, and Everhart hopes to be running 80 miles a week by the end of November.

A key difference will be Ethiopia’s higher elevation, says Everhart, noting that Ethiopia is 8,000 feet above sea level. The higher elevation will make it harder to breathe and tire her out more quickly. To prepare for these conditions, she’ll be visiting her mom in December in New Mexico, which has an elevation of 6,000 feet.

After Everhart tackles the Run Across Ethiopia, she expects to return to school to obtain a nursing degree. She is interested in working in Central America, South America, or, perhaps, Africa.

“On The Ground also supports health care and builds hospitals,” Everhart says. “I’m excited to see where this could go.”

Everhart says she is required to complete her fund-raising by December 1, and is appreciative of the support she has received so far. The OWU International Studies Program and Department of Black World Studies are among those who have contributed. Several local churches, businesses, and organizations have expressed interest in making donations as well.

Visit Global Village Collection to support Everhart.

Learn more about On The Ground’s Run Across Ethiopia. Everhart’s profile is included on the site under the “RAE Team” link.

Good luck, Claire, from all of your OWU friends and family!

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