Wenatchee ultra-marathoner runs to help widows in Burundi
Monday, December 24, 2012
WENATCHEE — When Scott Volyn runs marathons and ultra-marathons, thoughts of desperately poor African women keep him going.
“I’m trying to express love in its purest form,” he says.
Volyn runs to raise money to build homes for widows and their children who are among the poorest people in Burundi, a nation whose numbers of young men have been severely diminished by civil war.
“The widows lack social and legal status in Burundi and are homeless,” Volyn said. “They are also routinely victimized. Homes give these women some status, which is huge in their culture.”
How to help
Donations can be made to Running to Burundi, a nonprofit organization, in care of Scott Volyn, P.O. Box 1064, Wenatchee WA 98807.
For more information, call Volyn at 665-6727 or visitrunningtoburundi.com.
In 2011, Volyn raised enough money to build 20 homes in Burundi. Each home costs $600.
His goal for 2013 is to raise enough to build 10 more homes and to provide solar-powered lighting for 30 homes. He will do this, he says, by running three 100-mile ultra-marathons. His first 100-mile run will be in the TriCities in March. He estimates it will take him 24 to 30 hours to complete the run.
“I know I can do it; there is no question in my mind,” says the 49-year-old Wenatchee attorney. “What I lack in natural ability, I more than make up for in will.”
Where: Africa, bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania
Size: 17,680 square kilometers, slightly smaller than Maryland
Ethnic groups: Hutu, 85 percent; Tutsi, 14 percent; Pygmy, 1 percent
Religion: Christian, 67 percent; indigenous beliefs, 23 percent; Muslim, 10 percent.
Economy: Landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The economy is predominantly agricultural.
— Central Intelligence Agency
Volyn, a long-distance running for about 10 years, said Burundi fundraising efforts by his church, the Free Methodist Church, inspired him to run for the cause.
“I was sitting in church on Sunday morning at the end of 2010, and it struck me. I asked myself: ‘What could one person do, just on my own to help other people?’ “ he said. “I thought, well, I run anyway, why not see if other people would support my efforts in poverty as it pertains to Africa?”
Volyn has set up a non-profit organization, where donations can be tax-deductible, and began working through Sister Connection, a Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Burundian war widows and orphans. After this year, he said, he would like to expand his efforts so other competitive athletes can channel their efforts toward helping in Burundi.
“Endurance athletes have a lot of guilt about spending a lot of time on themselves,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why not get these people also fundraising at the same time?’.”
Volyn said he has appreciated large donations from people but he often thinks of the $1 donations from children when he needs inspiration to keep running.
“Just think if we can inspire our kids to help others from something like this,” he said. “That, in itself, makes it all worthwhile.”
Dee Riggs: 664-7147
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