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How Far Would You Go To Alleviate Poverty?

By Vanessa Felts

Last October, my good friend and Opportunity Governor Deyl Kearin ran 155 miles across the hottest desert on the planet. In support of his pursuit, he started Run4Poverty to raise awareness and sustainable funds for people in impoverished circumstances. Not only did he complete one of the toughest endurance events out there, he raised over $42,000 for Opportunity International.

Vanessa Felts

Many people in Deyl’s community and those who followed him on his journey were inspired. They were inspired by the strength and endurance of one man. They were inspired to support and give. They were inspired to share it with their friends. This is exactly what Deyl had in mind, and hundreds of Opportunity loan recipients’ lives were changed.

What Deyl didn’t necessarily foresee was how he would inspire another (slightly crazy) person to attempt the same feat. He also didn’t know that this person would be a woman.

After hearing straight from Deyl about the grueling, humbling, elating and life-altering experience, I was intrigued. I was not only compelled by the physical event, but also the mental challenge and the clear purpose that went into Deyl’s race. These are the things I love and I believe we were made for.

There was only one hiccup. I, this inspired and empowered woman, had never even run a marathon before, let alone six in a row! I quietly considered the possibility at first and then subtly inquired of Deyl, “Hey, what do you think you’re going to do with all of that gear?” Immediately, Deyl’s eyes lit up and he said to me, “Ness, you can do this. It is 10% physical and 90% mental. You would kill it.”

How’s that for a pep talk? Well, if it wouldn’t have worked for you, it did for me. I was hooked. I could not think of a better way to test my physical and mental capacity and loved the idea of supporting Opportunity International’s clients in the process.

What further inspired me to attempt six marathons in six days was the fact that in looking deeper into the organization that Deyl ran for, I learned that Opportunity International’s loan recipients are 95% female. In some ways I think it is very appropriate for me to struggle physically and mentally, across inhospitable terrain, carrying all of my own gear, in order to raise awareness and funds for women that struggle as much if not more on a daily basis to provide for their families. I am inspired by these women and dedicated to making an impact by raising funds for sustainable change for women worldwide.

So on June 2, I will be carrying the baton for the next leg of Run4Poverty. My adventure will be in the Gobi desert in China, which is marked by mountainous desert terrain, dramatic ranges in temperature from up to 100 degrees to freezing daily, and a rich culture.

My goal is to empower one woman for every kilometer I run. That is 250 women at $150 per loan (the average size of a microfinance loan), for a total of $37,500. This is going to be a tough race. Knowing that one woman is given the opportunity to start her own business or find a creative solution to provide for her family for every kilometer I run will add fuel to my body and my mind. Help me empower these women by supporting one or more of my kilometers.

You can also follow me on my blog while I’m on my journey and share my mission with your friends! I can use all of the support and encouragement I can get. Wish me luck in the Gobi desert!

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