Running for a cause at Bay to Breakers and in Kenya
The Bay to Breakers foot race inspires some to wear nothing but pasties and a thong, others to dress like LEGO blocks, “Avatar” aliens or cave men and stop off at bars along the way (though alcohol is officially a no-no this year), and a few other participants to run in pursuit of the winner’s purse. But this year it has inspired Ocean Beach Bulletin Associate Editor Mark Lukach to run in support of Carla, an athletic freshman who also will be running – in Kenya.
While San Franciscans sprint and stumble to the finish line in the centennial running of the famous race, Carla and the other girls of the Daraja Academy school, more than 9,500 miles away, will be running the same distance by circling their soccer field in the dark.
“This is the best part of this fundraiser,” Lukach said. “These girls have always wanted to contribute [toward their education], but they come from poverty that is on the level of being unimaginable.”
Lukach sits on the board of the Daraja Academy, an all-girls secondary school in Kenya founded by Jason and Jenny Dougherty of San Rafael. Lukach met and befriended the pair more than three years ago when their dream of a school was still evolving into an actual project.
Lukach had been editing Daraja video footage to show at fundraisers in the United States for years, and was excited to visit Daraja two months ago and finally meet the girls whose faces he had become so familiar with.
“I kept telling them I felt like I was meeting celebrities,” he said.
The state pays for girls’ education up until eighth grade, but without outside funding many are unable to continue on, instead resorting to house service, marriage — or in the worst case, prostitution.
“Instead, they’re in school,” Lukach said. “How can you not get excited about that?”
The Daraja Academy raises funds to sponsor each girl for a year at the boarding school, a cost of $2,500 that pays the basics: textbooks, healthy food, fresh sheets, teachers and so on.
Today the school is on its third class of incoming freshmen and has a total of 77 girls split into grades nine through 11.
At the Bay to Breakers Sunday, 77 people will run to raise money for Daraja, including 2010 women’s winner Lineth Chepkurui. Each participating Bay to Breakers runner is paired with a student and has a fundraising goal of $1,000. If all goes as planned, Daraja should receive $77,000.
Daraja Academy accepts volunteer workers. To apply, visit Daraja Academy’s website at daraja-academy.org/volunteer.