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As East African Elite Athletes Excel, Children Back Home Need Support

— Los Angeles Marathon Offers Fundraising Opportunity via The Fregenet Foundation —

Los Angeles East African runners are among the world’s elite distance runners. Typically, Ethiopians, Kenyans and others may be found at the front of the pack in the world’s leading marathons and distance events at major track meets. Yet, many of these runners come from impoverished places whose children have great needs that are not being met. The Fregenet Foundation aims to bridge this gap, and is using the upcoming 2010 Los Angeles Marathon as a major fundraising vehicle for its efforts to educate Ethiopian schoolchildren.

As part of the Marathon’s Official Charities program, Fregenet has raised thousands of dollars for early childhood education in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia over the past four years. This year, thanks to a brand-new course and redoubled fundraising efforts, foundation officials have set a target of $150,000 to purchase the currently rented school facility, and are aiming to recruit 100 runners this year to join the cause.

The Fregenet Foundation believes that early childhood education for the needy children of Ethiopia is among the greatest priorities facing the country, said Tafesse Woubshet, President and Founder of the Fregenet Foundation. ìWe are inspired that so many people agree and support our cause. Already, significant numbers of people have joined us, and it’s just the beginning for anyone else who wants to take part in the running or sending a pledge to sponsor the runners.î

The fundraising effort is straightforward: runners of ordinary ability sign up to run the marathon, train with the official training program, and seek support from friends, co-workers and others. Training for the March 21, 2010 marathon is just underway, and there is still time to sign up. Participants also have the opportunity of participating in a 5K race if they prefer.

The Fregenet Foundation, headquartered in Los Angeles, operates the Fregenet Kidan Lehitsanat School in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. One-hundred eighty five children, ages four to 10, currently attend the school, which meets and fulfills its students’ other basic needs by providing uniforms, snacks, hot lunch meals, access to a health clinic and library as well as computer access to the surrounding community. The funds raised in conjunction with the LA Marathon will support the Foundation’s effort to purchase the currently rented property and build a larger, more modern facility onsite.

ìPeople are really struggling in this difficult economic time, but they also know that supporting early childhood education for the needy ones is as important a task as any facing us,î Tafesse said. ìMany of our supporters and running participants have told me that they are running because they know how rough things are for the underprivileged children of Ethiopia. Let’s make a difference in the lives of the unfortunates.î

Established in the fall of 2004, The Fregenet Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to creating educational opportunities for impoverished children. The Foundation seeks to support schools that not only serve as centers of education, but as resources for the broader community. Fregenet also subsidizes the costs associated with tuition, books, uniforms and other materials to support students throughout their elementary education. The Foundation was formed in loving memory of Fregenet Tafesse Woubshet, a 29-year-old Ethiopian American who died in July 2003 before fulfilling her life-long dream of helping the needy children of Ethiopia.

Further details are available at the foundation’s website, www.fregenetfoundation.org, by calling 213-625-1867 or 310-344-5409, or by sending an e-mail to [email protected].