An organization that helps children abroad upheld one of its mottos through an event Saturday: think globally, act locally.
For Kids’ Sake held its second annual run/walk-a-thon to raise money to support orphanages and schools in Bangladesh. Local residents, businesses and SIU students participated and raised money for the event at Turley Park in Carbondale. The money raised will be divided to aid education costs, daily needs, orphanage staff salaries and costs for facilities in communities in Bangladesh, said Shema Ruperto, director of the international headquarters of For Kids’ Sake in Carbondale.
The event does not just involve Carbondale, Ruperto said, but other countries as well. Communities in Germany, Japan and Bangladesh also held their own run/walk-a-thons to show their appreciation of the cause, because For Kids’ Sake has branches in those areas. Participants could either walk or run a 5 or 10 kilometer distance.
Ruperto said the fundraiser is a good way to bring awareness to the cause.
“We chose to do a run/walk-a-thon because anyone can participate whether they are 5 years old or 82 years old,” she said.
Ruperto said many SIU students participated as well as the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity that helped sponsor the event.
“We wanted (our fraternity) to reach out to the community,” said Kevin Walsh, a sophomore from Oak Forest studying geology.
Scott Blackstone, an undecided sophomore from Washington D.C., said his fraternity sponsored the event by making a donation, participating in the run, working at the water stations that were spread throughout the race route, and setting up a stand at the Faner Hall breezeway where they encouraged students to register for the event. Ruperto said there were about 200 registered runners this year and 170 last year.
“It is fun giving back in a healthy way and (to) help the kids in Bangladesh,” Blackstone said.
Eleven Carbondale businesses also participated in the run/walk-a-thon through sponsorships and offering refreshments.
Participants in the event could raise money separately through pledges, Ruperto said. Registered runners had the option of collecting pledges. In order to pledge, a person promised to pay an amount of money for each kilometer ran by the registered runner or walker, Ruperto said. Awards were given out to whomever raised the most money, and free sweatshirts were given to whoever raised more than $200.
The organization did not meet its original goal of $15,000, but raised about $10,000, Ruperto said. Last year when the first run/walk-a-thon was held, only $8,500 was raised, she said.
Rupterto said For Kids’ Sake began with Shah Sufi Sayed Dayemullah, who worked to establish and operate orphanages in Bangladesh. For Kids’ Sake continues Dayemullah’s work through Dayemi Tariquat, which is a non-for-profit organization that is based in Carbondale and branches across the United States, Europe, Bangladesh and Japan.
For Kids’ Sake supports six facilities that provide food, clothing, housing, health care and education for 550 orphans. These orphanages also host schools that educate more than 3,500 children who come from surrounding villages in Bangladesh.
According to information from the organization, $1,200 pays a Bangladeshi teacher’s salary for one year, $500 covers an orhpan’s basic needs for one year, $240 pays for six months of room, board, and college tuition, $50 provides basic medical care for a child for one year, and $35 buys 100 meals for the children.
“We have a personal connection with Bangladesh,” Ruperto said.
Some of the volunteers who helped with the run/walk-a-thon event have traveled to Bangladesh and seen the communities that they help.
“This is a great event and the kids [in Bangladesh] are so grateful,” said Joy Koenig, a For Kids’ Sake volunteer who has traveled to Bangladesh.
Koenig said she would give the kids an apple, something that is a rarity to them in Bangladesh, and they would beam with happiness.
Jennifer Pellow, another volunteer who works with For Kid’s Sake, said she wishes she could have stayed in Bangladesh longer.
“To get to see the communities that we are helping is amazing,” Pellow said.
Ruperto said she was happy with the turnout and appreciated the community coming together for the cause.
For Kids’ Sake will hold its next fundraiser in May, when the group will host its annual art auction that features local and Bangladeshi kids’ artwork.