Friday, March 2, 2012

Freezing—and Running!— for a Heart-Warming Cause! PLEASE HELP!

I went through with it, and I've arrived in Listvyanka, Siberia—where I'm running in the Ice (Half) Marathon across Lake Baikal!!! ( I first wrote about the marathon last July...) The lake is a truly awesome body of water—it holds around a fifth of the fresh water on the planet; is a kilometer and a half deep in places; and contains thousands of plants and animal species found nowhere else on earth.

Here I am, in green, with my friend who is also running.

You can find out more about the run and area by visiting the Ice Marathon website.

I'm hoping to raise some money for a wonderful US charity that helps Eastern European orphans. New Horizons for Children  helps older orphans to experience life in a loving family during summer and winter vacation home stays in the United States. I chose this charity because of what I've seen it do first-hand, forever changing lives for the better.

You can easily make a donation by visiting my fundraising website:

I personally know families who have hosted through New Horizons, and some have even adopted their sixteen-year-old summer guests! You can read more about my friend Rachael's experience with New Horizons—and as a new mom to sixteen-year-old Ukrainian-born Nick—at her blog ( 

He has fit right into the family, adored by his little brothers and sisters. 

Rachael, incidentally, got me both blogging, volunteering with Russian orphans, and running when we met in 2004... She was in Moscow waiting for her St. Petersburg-born six-year-old Katya's US passport... 

Here they were waiting to host Nick last summer...

...And here he is with his new family.

An orphan's wishes are simple - love, FAMILY, home, acceptance, HOPE. They are the most basic needs of the human spirit that every child should be entitled to. Unfortunately, for most orphans of poverty-stricken Eastern Europe, these simple wishes are far-fetched, impossible dreams. Most will have to scrap and scrape to make their way in this world - alone - and statistically the odds are not in their favor. At 16 or after 9th grade, they are turned out into the streets, with nothing but the clothes on their backs and little to no skills. Some sources say that only about 25-30% of Ukrainian orphanage graduates will go on to hold down a job or attend a trade school for more than a year. The rest fall prey to the streets: crime, drugs, prostitution. 10% will commit suicide by age 25.

Hosting gives them hope. A chance to experience and see firsthand what a family can be. A chance to know that somebody in this world cares about them. For some, hosting may be their one chance to meet their forever family and to be adopted. It's a chance to rewrite the whole rest of their story - to change their future. I greatly admire the work the charity has done and hope it can expand to reach more children.

I know many people ask for donations, but I'd be so grateful even for a tiny amount. Donating through is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with– they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to New Horizons. All money donated will go to provide scholarships to children hoping to be hosted—and we'll direct the funds to help Nick's best friends who have been left behind. This is their very last chance to find a family instead of ending up on the streets!

It costs $2,500 per child to host, and not all families can afford this cost, even though they yearn to open their homes to these children... I would be immensely grateful for anything you can donate!


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to see you posted again. I miss hearing news about Russian life. Keep posting!

Coincidentally, yesterday we just committed to hosting a 13-yr-old Ukrainian girl this summer thru New Horizons for Children. We were inspired to host by following Nick's story on AlwaysWanted4.blogspot. We are so excited to meet our summer daughter now.

Enjoy the race and try to keep warm!

Cheryl in ID

Anonymous said...

Stay warm and dry!
Good luck!
Wish you were skiing instead of running.
I just put some money for your cause.

Tina in CT said...

I hope this reaches a lot of people and adds more to your cause.

I did my donation earlier this week.

Thank you Olga.

Rachael said...

Cheryl, that's amazing! I'm so happy for you!!

Tamara, thanks for doing this! You are pretty amazing too!!

(and Nick is only 14...though I'm sure he's counting down to 16. Boy wants to drive. That's motivating him to learn English, so he can take drivers ed!!)