By Kevin Glackin-Coley
The 7th Annual Booking It 5K/2K cross-country run/walk will take place on Saturday August 10, 2013 at Lakewood’s Fort Steilacoom Park. All proceeds from Booking It will be used to fund scholarships for primary and secondary school students in the Southern African country of Lesotho. The school is located in the city of Maseru, which has a Friendship City relationship with the City of Tacoma. All funds go directly to student needs; no overhead or administrative costs are deducted. Day of race registration will open at 8:00, with the 2K starting at 8:30 and the 5K at 9:00. Walkers in both events will start immediately after the runners.
Since 2007 Booking It participants have funded twenty-five high school and two elementary school scholarships for students in Lesotho. With more than half its population of 2.2 million living below the poverty line, Lesotho is one of the poorest countries in the world. Sr. Silvia, a Holy Names nun who works with the students supported by Booking It, shared the following about one of the teenagers who received a scholarship from the 2008 run:
Ntsoaki Khutlang is a 14 year old girl who attends Mazenod High school in Lesotho. She is the youngest of three children. After her father died from AIDS, her mother ran away because she was scared she would see her children dying from hunger. The three children went to live with four cousins and an aunt. The aunt died, so the children are now living alone. They have no income and very little food. Ntsoaki studies hard, and she passed all her tests last year.
Booking It was “born” in 2007, Shay Glackin-Coley – then ten years old – began searching for a way to raise funds for a charitable cause. His first inclination was to find a job, which would enable him to donate his paychecks. Given the lack of good paying jobs for ten year olds, and his love of running, he and his father decided to organize a fund raising run instead. They brought Shay’s ideas to the Lesotho Connection, where his energy and enthusiasm founded the run and continue to touch lives here and in Lesotho.
Tamara Power-Drutis, a PLU graduate, explains why she participates in Booking It.
“In my sophomore year at Pacific Lutheran University, I had the opportunity to do research in Lesotho on a Wang Grant. Though I witnessed terrible poverty, it was the poverty of educational opportunity that posed the greatest obstacle to a better future. Few children could afford the cost of tuition, and even fewer could afford the text books, uniforms, and school supplies required for attendance. To read for fun was unheard of, a reality that was mirrored in empty library shelves or near-ancient novels which rarely reached the hands of children.”
Lesotho Connection is a non-denominational organization that aspires to develop resources, promote understanding, and foster mutuality between communities in Tacoma and Lesotho. TLC is a grass-roots response to the high incidence of HIV/AIDS, the growing number of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, and the extreme poverty of Lesotho, Africa.