"Be fit. Create art. Help others." That's the motto for this year's 16th Annual Run for Zimbabwe Orphans and Fair.
The colorful culture of Zimbabwe comes to Mountain View cross-country races, an art competition, and a collection of festive booths from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, at St. Joseph School.
The event includes 11 races to cater to age groups ranging from preschool to adult. An eclectic collection of booths will be peppered along the perimeter of the race course, offering educational and creative ways for youth to become immersed in African traditions. And the local art competition offers another way for younger generations to connect with Zimbabwe history and culture, according to race organizers.
By holding activities other than foot races, event organizers seek to be inclusive and offer alternatives for kids with disabilities or who are unable to participate in the race, said event spokeswoman Girley Tegama.
People who cannot afford the $5 fee to run but would still like to participate are invited to join in the activities as well.
The event seeks to promote awareness of the struggles of those in Zimbabwe, but to also celebrate their culture in a festive manner, organizers said.
"In these runs, we are targeting children who are in elementary school, middle school, and high school because that's where we have to start," said Tegama.
This year's race is dedicated to the welfare of 100 orphans at Makumbi Children's Home, a Zimbabwe orphanage that has existed since 1936; funds raised will go toward termite repair.
Those at Makumbi Children's Home "identify their biggest need and tell us, and we focus on raising the funds so that they can accomplish taking care of that particular need," said Ellen Clark, director of the event. "And that way it's not our foundation telling them what they need, because how are we to know? They are capable, smart people who know more than us."
The philanthropic event was inspired by the work of her son, Will Clark. In 1997, he graduated from Notre Dame with his teaching credentials and pursued an individual volunteer project in South Africa. While her son tutored and taught in a small village in Zimbabwe, Clark said she visited and saw Africa "at its saddest and at its happiest."
She said she "fell in love" with Africa, but also witnessed devastation in the wake of the AIDS pandemic. After returning home, Clark and her family wanted to work toward easing some of the problems facing people in Africa. The family created the Sustainable Living Foundation and decided to host an annual fundraiser that contributes all of its proceeds to the orphanage.
"Every single cent we raise goes directly over to Makumbi Children's Home and it's just a real feel-good event that gives people the opportunity to be fit, create art and help others," Ellen Clark said. The event is now in its 16th year.
Information and race registration forms are online at zimbabweparaguay.net or by calling (650) 941-9206. St. Joseph School is located at 1120 Miramonte Ave., Mountain View.