ASHLAND, Ky. – Little is much when God is in it.
That goes for running, too.
Amy For Africa’s smallest and youngest runner, 6-year-old Jarek Compston, is taking on another big challenge Nov. 5 in Huntington, W.Va., by competing in his first half-marathon.
Jarek’s little legs will be carrying him 13.1 miles in the Marshall University Half Marathon. He will be running alongside his marathon-running mother/coach, Amy Compston, the face of the Amy For Africa mission.
Amy is an accomplished runner, with several marathons and ultra-marathons under her belt, along with being a nurse veteran of 13 years in the emergency room. Those factors allowed an exception for Jarek to enter the race despite his age. Twelve years old is the cutoff for most half-marathon participants.
Jarek will run with purpose and for a purpose – to raise money to send 1,000 Christmas packages “to people who have never received a Christmas gift” in Uganda this November. AFA is sending a mission team to the school that they operate near Jinja after Thanksgiving and already have about 1,000 packages for children and adults, but not the funding to deliver the gifts.
Each package contains a shirt, flip-flops, hygiene products, school supplies, a toy, first aid supplies and a gospel tract.
The cost of shipping to Uganda comes at around $5 a package. Jarek said he wants his “African friends” to have presents to open on Christmas. AFA has started “Jarek’s Christmas Journey” as a fundraiser to send the gifts from the United States to Uganda, some 8,000 miles.
Individuals can sponsor Jarek at four levels: Platinum ($150), Gold ($100), Silver ($75) or Bronze ($50) or donate whatever they wish by going to amyforafrica.com/donate. Amy For Africa will be keeping a running day-to-day total on its website (amyforafrica.com) and Facebook page (Amy For Africa). Any donation is tax deductible.
Use the hashtag #joinjareksjourney to follow updated news about the campaign.
Jarek has been going through a 12-week training program for half-marathon runners, his mother said.
“This was all his idea,” Amy said. “He told me and Chris that he wanted to run a half marathon so the African children could have some Christmas presents. I thought that was so sweet. For a 6-year-old, he has such a big heart for others.”
This isn’t Jarek’s first venture of running to raise money for Amy For Africa. Last October, he competed in his first and only 10K in the Mission: Education race sponsored by The Daily Independent in Ashland, where the Compstons live.
His goal, besides completing the 10K, was to raise money for bibles written in Lugandan, the language used where the organization is working.
AFA began a sponsorship campaign a week before the race for 100 bibles. The final number was 336 with more than $3,000 raised by Jarek’s challenge.
It wasn’t easy, but he completed the 6.2-mile race with his mother pushing him to finish strong.
“Watching how hard he tried made me proud,” said his father, Chris Compston. “What’s so great is, it isn’t about him. He was doing it for other people.”
Jarek will be competing in the Mission: Education 10K again Saturday as part of his training program for the half-marathon in November.