Student saps own savings to fund charity run
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 00:09
It was a hot day in the slums of Kampala, Uganda. Sarah Ringler stood in the stifling and stuffy back room of a small clinic filled with sick people. The clinic was dirty and smelly, details Ringler barely noticed as she came to a bed where twin baby girls lay, IVs duct taped to their arms. The mother of these little girls, both sick with malaria, begged Ringler to hold them and pray.
“I was really heartbroken by what I saw,” said Ringler, a sophomore English major.
As soon as Ringler returned to America from that mission trip to Uganda in 2010, she began to research information on malaria and was shocked by the statistics she found.
“Three hundred people die every day of malaria in Uganda, so over the span of a year, that’s 70,000 to 100,000 people,” Ringler said. “This makes it the deadliest disease in Africa, far deadlier than HIV, AIDS or anything else.”
Faced with these statistics and her three mission trips to Uganda, Ringler set out to provide what resources she could. In March, she met with representatives from Pilgrim Africa, an organization founded by Ugandan Christians to prevent and treat malaria in Uganda, to discuss planning a 5K run to raise money for the organization.
“We talked about a stateside fundraiser that we could do, not only to raise money but also to raise awareness,” Ringler said. “We also wanted it to be associated with the name of Christ, and we wanted the church to be Christ’s hands and feet.”
Ringler said she wants to connect people in America with the needed resources to the people in Africa who require the resources.
“These people have a disease inside of them that they don’t have the means to cure, and in the same way we have sin inside of us, and there is no way that we can fix it on our own,” Ringler said. “And so in a way we can be a representation of Christ’s love.”
Others have watched as Ringler has worked to put on the 5K, “Miles for Malaria,” using her own savings and tax refunds from student loans to fund the race.
“I know that in planning it, [Ringler] has made a ton of sacrifices,” said Elise Hargrave, junior international studies and English major. “She would never admit or boast about herself, but she has been so selfless in draining her savings and spending so much time diligently working to fight malaria and make the name of Christ known through this organization.”
All proceeds from the event will go to benefit Pilgrim Africa. Previously, the organization has focused its efforts on reducing malaria in the Ugandan district of Katakwi by providing education on proper malaria prevention and resources to prevent and treat the resources.
Pilgrim Africa sprayed the homes of people in Katakwi with an interior residual spray, which lasts on the walls of homes and kills mosquitos that land on it, killing the host along with the parasite. The organization tested residents for the disease, treating anyone who tested positive as well as all pregnant women and children regardless of the outcome of the test.
By instituting these measures, Pilgrim Africa was able to decrease malaria rates in Katakwi by 93 percent.
“They saw the clinic that was once full of children dying of malaria completely emptied out,” Ringler said. “That project just showed how simple the solution is if we only have the resources.”
The event has already received a very positive response on campus, said Sarah Fletcher, sophomore architecture major and friend of Ringler’s who has helped advertise the race.
“I got to the point where people were coming up to the banner and I didn’t have to yell at them anymore,” said Sarah Fletcher, sophomore architecture major. “They would ask for flyers, and I would just get so excited. It’s definitely had a really great response.”
The race will be held at 7:30 a.m. Saturday in Wolf Pen Creek Park. It is $25 to run, and anyone can register at milesformalaria.org. The funds will go to support Pilgrim Africa’s “Move for Malaria” project, which takes the methods used in Katakwi and implements them in other districts.