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Shoreham students run, raise money for Kenyans
In few races are the winners actually outrun by a time that is minutes faster than theirs.
But nevertheless, such winners were named at the eighth annual Kenya/USA Bicontinental 5k Run at Shoreham-Wading River, a bicontinental five kilometer run held simultaneously by Kenyans in the village of Meru. Winners are named on each continent.
On American soil, Ryan Udvadia, 16, of Shoreham, completed the race in 18:28; and Anya Uzo, 16, of Wading River, ran it in 23:33.
In Kenya, the fastest male time was 14:42; and the fastest female time was 16:59.
The run was a benefit for the Hope Children’s Fund, which operates an orphanage in Meru. Each year, students in the Shoreham Wading River High School Global Awareness Club, mentored by teacher Kevin Mann, visit the orphanage to distribute materials and assess the needs of the children that live there.
Mann said the Kenyans have beat the SWR runners six out of eight races.
“Once more the Kenyans won,” he said. “But not to anyone’s surprise, really.”
Samantha Lacovara, 17, of Shoreham, is a board member for the Hope Children’s Fund and has been to Meru three times. She said the proceeds from the race will pay for dental care for each of the 79 orphans at the facility in Meru, a need the students determined on their last visit to Kenya in February.
“This was the first time we realized that the kids needed all these procedures,” she said. “So this was definitely a more urgent need for the race money.”
Lacovara said about 100 people participated in the run in Shoreham, raising about $4,000 and an additional $1,000 was raised in Kenya.
Mann said the race is a “much bigger deal” in Kenya -- hundreds of people showed up -- for two reasons: Pride -- when the United States won the race four years ago, the Kenya Methodist University track team began running to help the country’s chances; and food -- a full meal is served after the race to everyone who runs or attends.
“That’s a Kenyan tradition,” Mann said. “When you hold an event, you feed the neighborhood.”
Uzo, the female U.S. winner, went to Meru with her class last year. She said she befriended a 13-year-old girl who lives in the orphanage and when they raced each other Uzo won.
She said the girl promised to keep running so she could beat Uzo when she comes back. Uzo, who runs track and cross country for SWR, said she kept the girl in mind while she was running the 5k.
“I wasn’t really running for myself, I was running for the kids,” she said. “I kept wondering if she was running, too.”
Photo: Officials and some of the winners of the five kilometer race to raise funds for a Kenyan orphanage. They are, from left, Shoreham-Wading River High School principal Dan Holtzman; Ryan Udvadia, the men's winner; Lawrence Hohler, co-president of the Hope Children's Fund; Anya Uzo, the women's winner; Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko, and Oliver Mashaka, a Kenyan exchange student at Stony Brook University. (May 13, 2012)