As a student at the College of Medicine, Dr. Dan Kelly (Class of 2008) ran a couple of marathons, in Yonkers and in New York City. But the fact that more than a half-dozen years had passed since he last completed a race of 26.2 miles did not deter him from lacing up his sneakers on Sunday, May 26, 2013 – this time, in Sierra Leone, on behalf of Wellbody Alliance, a nongovernmental organization he co-founded in the African nation while still an Einstein student. The organization’s mission is to provide health as a human right to the rural poor of Sierra Leone.
"This was the first marathon that I ran for Wellbody Alliance, so while the course was tough and it was tough to find a pace, this was special because it was the cause that pushed me to run," he noted to supporters who had donated money toward his efforts to raise $10,000 to aid the clinic’s $40,000 operating budget for the coming year. (To date, he has raised more than 60% of his goal.)
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Dr. Kelly only had a week of training under his belt when he stepped to the starting line. "One week out, I ran 12 miles, and three days from the race, I ran 8 miles, and that was it," he said. "The marathon was gritty. It was 26.2 miles of dirt roads and paths, up and down through villages, with heat and humidity rising over the course."
The winning time for the Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon, as the race is known, was 2 hours and 45 minutes. Dr. Kelly completed the course 15th among hundreds of participants, with a time of 3 hours and 59 minutes.
Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, president of Sierra Leone, kicked off the race, commending Street Child, the charity for which most runners raise funds – which helps to get children off the streets and into homes, and attending school. He then ran the five kilometer course also run that day, often surrounded by children.
Dr. Kelly noted, "Your support kept me going through the hardest part of the marathon – after mile 20 – and has had an immediate impact on the lives of those people who come to our clinic as a place of hope."
He added, "The poor of the Kono District, where our clinic is located, used to believe that the local hospital was the place you go to die. Through our work with them in our comprehensive health clinic, we’re re-building the community's trust in Sierra Leone's health delivery system. They view our clinic as a place of hope."
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