Great Escape race designed to bring to light plight of world’s refugees | VailDaily.com

Great Escape race designed to bring to light plight of world’s refugees

Josh Carney
jcarney@postindependent.com

Through exercise, critical thinking and teamwork, the Great Escape Race, held in New Castle June 25 at 2 p.m., hopes to bring awareness to the plight of refugees across the world during a tumultuous time in the world.

The Great Escape: A Refugee's Race for Freedom, was created and organized by Refuge and Hope International in 2014 to educate and sensitize people to the challenges refugees face as they flee their homelands in search of safety. During those treks out of the war-torn countries, refugees have to make difficult decisions, such as carrying a sick grandma. Through this event, the organization hopes participants and organizers will experience a taste of refugees' struggles while they compete in teams and work together to overcome distance and unexpected obstacles along the way.

Michaela Fulk of New Castle and her family will bring the event to the valley. She and the rest of the organizers hope to raise funds for refugees living in Northern Uganda, where the Fulks lived in years past on missionary work with the Karamojong people.

"There's a lot of people that are talking about refugees right now, so our hope is to make people and families aware of what these refugees go through," Fulk said. "We're hoping the obstacles on the course help bring that out. But in the end, this is a fun activity for families and teams to take part in. There's things on the course that you wouldn't normally have to do, so our hope is to bring awareness about refugees but also just to have fun."

The Great Escape Run will feature two separate courses: a 5-mile course and a 3-mile course. The course will start in Apple Tree between Silt and New Castle, where it will run along Talbot Trail before ending at Grand River Park. Obstacles will include physical barriers, as well as mental and emotional ones as well. Fulk was adamant that working together with your team is critical to completing the course.

The Fulk's first participated in the race in Kemala during their missionary stay, where they had a ton of fun in the event. Fulk felt that it would be a great idea to bring the Great Escape Race back to the valley, largely due to the impact that it had on her family and her children.

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"My family enjoyed it so much, and it was so eye-opening for my kids," Fulk said. "We were able to talk as a family and discuss what refugees have to go through, so it had such an impact on my family. When the schools started talking about refugees, we figured we should do the race on a small scale. But then it turned into a big-scale one due to the organization that runs the entire thing, so it made it more doable for the valley, in terms of waivers, volunteers and things like that."

In Uganda in recent years, refugees have poured in from surrounding war-torn countries such as the Congo, Sudan, Kenya and Rwanda.

All proceeds from the race will be donated to the Refuge and Hope International charity, which is located in Kampola, Uganda. The organization is designed to teach refugees trades, such as sewing, while also teaching them English.

Fulk added that one of the best thing the organization offers is counseling to help refugees cope with trauma they may have experienced during the journey.

Competitors can sign up for the Great Escape Race in New Castle at http://www.active.com, where a search of the Great Escape Race will link to the registration pages.