This time of the year, with the cooler weather, many people hit the road for Autumn races. Cross country runners are winding down their seasons and many cities host huge marathons. The Chicago marathon was just a few weeks ago, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. was this past Sunday and next week we have the New York City marathon.
Many people use races as a way to show their support through raising awareness and funds for issues they care about deeply. This is exactly how Dr. Rick Asselta, Roots & Shoots coordinator for Latin America and recipient of the Jane Goodall Global Leadership Award in Education, has used races over the last several years. One of the issues that Dr. Rick is most passionate about supporting is people with disabilities, especially those in Tanzania and other countries in Africa.
Dr. Rick, a retired educator, has worked with young people with disabilities for over four decades, and has been involved with Roots & Shoots both in Africa and the United States almost since the program was born in the early ‘90s. While working as a volunteer for Roots & Shoots in Tanzania, Dr. Rick learned about how so many young people there were afflicted with disabilities—ones that often required the use of a wheelchair. The need for a wheelchair can cause them to be left out in their communities, and may even prevent them from attending school or participating in other activities.
To show his support for these young people living with a disability, Dr. Rick doesn’t just participate in a race by running on foot, he does so with a wheelchair. In doing so, Dr. Rick raises awareness for people living with disabilities. He also uses his races as a way to raise money to purchase wheelchairs for people with disabilities in Tanzania.
Dr. Rick’s next race will be next week on November 4, 2012 at the NYC Marathon. This race will be his 30th race! So far he has already raised enough money to buy eight wheelchairs for young people in Africa. Through his efforts and commitment to this issue, so many peoples’ lives have been improved.
Join us in giving three Roots & Shoots pant hoots for Dr. Rick and wish him well as he competes in the NYC Marathon next week!