Thank you for your participation in the Inaugural Orphan Hope Marathon.
It was a wonderful event.
Other photos and video below.
We are still receiving donations to reach our goal for the Safe House
Video of race start…
The first annual Orphan Hope Marathon was a grand success by all accounts. It all started in February of 2011 with an email from a friend and fellow soldier in orphan ministry, Jenn Burton,
I was out walking today and thinking and wanted to run something by you. I am not sure if you knew but I have a non-profit fitness ministry. We do bootcamps at different churches and just have a heart to help women get healthy in all aspects of their lives. So I also now have a heart for these orphans so as I was thinking about the 2, I think it would be really amazing if masterpiece fitness (my ministry) put on a walk-thon with the goal of raising enough money to give to orphan hope to build another safe home. We currently have about 200 girls in the ministry and that seems to be growing by the day. We could put on the walk (a big one) and then follow it up with a mission trip to Colombia for the women and their families that want to go. What do you think?
I have learned that God uses our passions to lead us into ways that we can expand His kingdom with incredible enjoyment and I recognized this as one of those opportunities and so I told Jenn, “Absolutely, let’s do it.” Neither of us knew the huge effort and blessing that was ahead.
The rest of Jenn’s fitness team, Dawn Rodgers, and Melanie Gonzales immediately jumped on board and we were off and running. It wasn’t long before God sent what the girls describe as “an angel” in Ken Johnson. Ken is a retired Lt. Colonel in the Army who has run marathons for decades and even written and published on the subject. He lives in Huntsville where we held the race and very early on he joined the planning team. These three girls and their team and families worked endless hours to make this race happen. It was a full year of donations, planning, scheduling, studying marathons, purchases, and so on and it culminated in a smashing success on Saturday with 416 runners and $40,000.00 raised for the Bogota Safe House that we will open this year. The goal was $60,000.00 so will still have a way to go. We are still taking donations at www.OrphanHopeMarathon.com for the Safe House.
We had a wonderful pre-race sit down dinner on Thursday night with live music, wonderful food, and testimonies about the importance of the cause. The Attaway family came together and organized the entire thing. They are amazing!Over 150 volunteers worked Friday and Saturday. The after race meal consisted of over 500 barbecue sandwiches prepared by Dawn Rodgers father and family (28 briskets!). There were so many miracles that happened along the way that it made it really fun to see God’s fingerprints on the whole thing. People came together, worked, donated, and with such wonderful attitudes it was a delight to work together with each and every one of them. Jenn and some of her team spent most of the day Friday marking every inch of the 13.1 mile trail through the woods of Huntsville State Park while the rest of us set up tents and stretched flagging and lots of other items.
My sweet wife, Lisa, along with our girls were in charge of setting up and manning the Orphan Hope International booth and they did a beautiful job of representing our ministry at the race.We all got about 3 hours of sleep Friday night and then hit the ground running at 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning. I couldn’t have been more proud of the way Beverly, Brooke, and Jana jumped in and helped both on Saturday and Sunday. They were a huge blessing.It was so exciting to see the hundreds of people come flooding into the park from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. And then it was time to start. I led the group in prayer, the music started, the horn sounded and then they were off! I felt the tears well up in my eyes as everyone cheered and the runners raced off into the trees.
A tremendous personal blessing for me was that my beautiful African daughter, Mercy, was one of the runners. The former orphan running to raise money for orphans… profound and precious.A few weeks ago I noticed that she was thinning down some and because she has had so many health problems in her past it worried me a little bit and so I asked, “Hey Baby, are you losing weight? Are you ok?” She smiled at me, “Dad! I’m training for the Orphan Hope Marathon!” I was stunned. I had no idea she was excited about and planning to run. She was a little worried because she had never run more than 4 miles but she was determined to at least run a relay leg of 8 miles. She ended up running the 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles) in 2 hours and 30 minutes. A time good enough to win second place in her age group. We were elated!When you consider that 4 1/2 years ago she was lying in a bed in Monrovia, Liberia dying and weighed only 48 pounds, to see her cross that finish line (see video below) was one of the defining moments of my life. We interviewed her on camera later and she said, “Dad, just when I was ready to quit about 3/4 of the way through I saw one of your signs that you posted along the trail (there were 30 of them with a girls face on each one) and the sign I saw had Heidy’s picture on it and I knew that I had to go on for Heidy.” Wow! God is so good to us to allow us to follow Him on this amazing journey. – Matt Bullen, Director