A 14-year-old girl from Kenya is in Nova Scotia this week thanks to the efforts of one Halifax teen.
Fleur O’Connor, a 13-year-old student at Armbrae Academy, decided that for her Bat Mitzvah this year she wanted to sponsor a young runner to travel to Halifax and participate in the Bluenose Marathon weekend.
“I always wanted to do something with Africa,” said O’Connor.
“In 2015, we had people come from Iten and run in the Bluenose, and that’s kind of where the idea came from.”
That was when she and her family got things in motion, reaching out to a family friend with connections in Kenya.
“It was such a long process,” said Fleur’s mother, Jennifer O’Connor.
“We connected with a friend of ours whose done a lot of good work, a lot of running in Iten, Kenya. He connected us with a man named Toby Tanser who works part-time in New York and part-time in Kenya. He’s been instrumental in changing a lot of lives — building schools, a children’s hospital.”
O’Connor said Tanser began interviewing locals who might be a good fit for the trip, and decided upon a young girl named Dorothy Chepkonga. He also recommended that the O’Connor family travel to Africa to see what life was like on the other side of the world.
“We met Dorothy’s mother, connected with her and sort of hoped that she would feel comfortable with the idea of sending Dorothy to us,” said Jennifer O’Connor.
“From there, that’s kind of when we began the logical process of getting her a passport, applying for a Canadian visa.”
Due to scheduling issues, Dororthy was unable to come to Halifax in May to participate in the Bluenose Marathon weekend, but was able to attend a fundraiser in her honour.
On Sunday, the O’Connor family hosted the R.A.C.E. Run (Race for Awareness, Courage and Empowerment) as a way of raising enough money to cover travel expenses from Kenya (around $6,800).
They said there’s a possibility the R.A.C.E. Run may become an annual event.