NYC Marathon Team to Raise Money for Kenyan Children's Hospital
A racing team in the upcoming New York City Marathon hopes to raise over $130,000 to support the construction of Kenya's first children's hospital. Sponsored by PepsiCo, the team will donate the money to Shoe4Africa, the nonprofit that has been raising money for the hospital since 2008.
Shoe4Africa has already raised $1.6 million of the $1.9 million needed to break ground on the children's hospital. With PepsiCo's support, Shoe4Africa hopes to break ground soon.
"PepsiCo is a name you dream about as a corporate sponsor," says Toby Tanser, Founder of Shoe4Africa. "I'm grateful to PepsiCo for believing in our mission, supporting activities for our New York Marathon racing team, and putting us that much closer to our goal of breaking ground."
Shoe4Africa is also supported in its mission by an impressive board that includes Dr. David Feldman, chief of Pediatric Orthopedics at NYU Langone Medical Center, John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile USA, and actor Anthony Edwards.
Sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of over 850 million, has some of the highest child mortality rates in the world. But with relentless economic difficulties, the region has only one dedicated children's public hospital. The Shoe4Africa children's public hospital will be the first ever in Kenya.
"Kids must go to adults hospitals where they are fifth class citizens," says Tanser. "Hearing the need for basic public health access, the hospital has become a cornerstone project of Shoe4Africa to eventually serve hundreds of thousands of children."
The inspiration for Shoe4Africa came to Tanser on Christmas day, 1995, when he was staying in the bush in Southern Kenya. "I strolled too far into the Masai Mara and got horribly lost," he says.
"A group of tourists spotted us from a safari bus, came, took photos of us and drove off as we approached pleading for help. At nightfall, stumbling home and in dire hunger I walked through a small cluster of huts. Peasants who had virtually nothing came out to help. The family that fed me killed their last hen so that I could eat. They were so happy just to give although I could offer nothing in return."
After the experience, Tanser founded Shoe4Africa, in part to repay his debt to the peasants who helped him that Christmas night. Starting out by donating running shoes and cleats, the organization's mission has since grown to include raising awareness about AIDS, building schools, developing education programs, and promoting women's empowerment.
Shoe4Africa is run entirely by volunteers, which means that 100% of the funds raised directly support basic needs in Kenya. The hospital project has the backing of the Kenyan Ministry of Medical Services. Land has been donated, and the hospital will be supplied with qualified doctors and nurses.
"It is important to note that this project was not the whims of a misaligned Westerner," jokes Tanser. "Children, mothers, doctors and relevant ministries are all asking for their first children's public hospital."
Once the hospital is built, Shoe4Africa will work on raising money for furnishings and medical equipment. Those interested in learning more or donating can visit Shoe4Africa.org.