Illuminated by the colorful swirls of glow sticks, approximately 60 contestants ran through downtown Siloam Springs Saturday night to raise money for orphanages in Uganda. Hosted by 4 Chicks for Chicks on January 25, Night Flight encouraged John Brown University students, faculty and other community members to get involved, get in shape and have some fun.
“We just wanted to do something different,” said Betsy Burns, one of the four University students who started 4 Chicks for Chicks, which is a branch off of Fayetteville-based non-profit ForgottenSong. ForgottenSong focuses on enabling women and children in war-torn countries.
Through a class opportunity with Preston Jones, Burns was introduced to Charles Davidson, the director of ForgottenSong.
“I had been praying for a way to get involved,” Burns said.
After an initial meeting, things began to fall into place. At the end of October: they set a goal to raise $25,000, a friend came up with the name and Burns recruited friends Annie Brown, Mallory Spangler and Maggie Morrison to join her efforts.
“It’s been really beneficial for the four of us to be able to work on things as a group,” she explained.
In November, the group officially started fundraising efforts, sending out support letters and gaining sponsors.
One of the main ways the girls began raising money was through a race, deciding to run the William’s Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa, Okla.
On their 4 Chicks for Chicks Facebook page, the girls released announcement stating, “One of the major ways we will be raising funds is through participating in a half-marathon (a 13.1 mile race) on November 24th, 2013. We are asking individuals like you to sponsor us at a certain amount per mile ranging from $2/mile – $50/mile.”
While Morrison and Brown had experience running, they all agreed it was a challenge at first.
“Once I really let it set in that it was for a cause, there was no backing out,” Spangler said.
Brown described how the group trained 3-5 days a week, sometimes running up to ten miles.
All the hours paid off as all four completed the race, ultimately raising around $3000.
Speaking from his own experiences, Davidson organized the group to go one step further and organize a run of their own. Collectively they worked together to come up with the Night Flight 5K.
The race started at the flagpoles on campus, continued downtown and eventually looped back around to end up at the intramural fields. With both runners and walkers participating, the event lasted about an hour.
Participants were greeted at the finish line with a glow-in-the-dark balloon arch donated by The Balloon Closet and other snacks and water made possible from donations by Wal-Mart and Harps; running bibs were also sponsored by Road ID.
Addressing race contestants, Davidson recognized the hard work of the students.
“In just a couple months they raised enough money to start a whole chicken farm in Uganda that is now capable of feeding thousands of children as it grows and matures; right now it is feeding 300-400 kids every single day,” he described. “I wanted you to be able to grasp what coming to this race really meant and what world change really looks like. You want to know what world change looks like: look at these four girls. It’s incredible.”
Davidson recently returned from a trip to Uganda, where the first out of three chicken farms was founded. With the continued efforts of the girls and other volunteers, Davidson is optimistic about the long-term reach of the non-profit, estimating that one day these few will reproduce enough so that there are thousands of chicken farms—all able to feed orphans.
In the aftermath of the 5K, 4 Chicks for Chicks will reevaluate their long-term goals and continue to pray about their efforts to send aid to war-torn areas. Donations to 4 Chicks for Chicks or ForgottenSong are still being accepted. Contact Burns for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org