Rochester Army Sgt. Running Up Mountain to Raise Funds for Haiti
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 18, 2016) – With a whole lot of faith and a desire to help the destitute in Haiti, Tyler Kerr is preparing to embark on a great adventure on April 30. It is one that will have him run 31 miles in the craggy foothills of the Catskill Mountains in New York.
The Rochester, N.Y., Army staff sergeant is seeking to raise funds to help struggling families in Haiti through Food For The Poor.
"If I can accomplish my goal of running an ultramarathon and raise money to put a roof over the head of some of the poorest families in the Western Hemisphere, it is a win-win," said Kerr, who witnessed firsthand people suffering from poverty during his tours of duty in Iraq.
Kerr will run the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Kilometer Race at Bear Mountain State Park, N.Y., on April 30. His goal is to raise $3,500.
Kerr began to take running seriously a year ago. In November, he started looking for a charity with the idea of helping those with the most dire needs.
In January, the Rev. Glen Paul Baptiste, who speaks at churches on behalf of Food For The Poor, came to Kerr's St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Rochester and addressed the congregation about the crisis that is continuing in Haiti, even six years after the earthquake in 2010.
"I listened intently to his words and about halfway through found that voice in the back of my head screaming at me saying, 'This is the charity!' " Kerr recalled. "He shared his passion and personal testimony from the families down there. That's not something I had experienced before."
Each weekend, Baptiste and other members of Food For The Poor's Speakers Bureau – Catholic and Episcopal priests and Lutheran pastors – travel to churches around the United States, sharing the charity's mission. Baptiste applauded Kerr's heightened sense of social consciousness and empathy for families in Haiti living in painfully raw poverty. "I am deeply encouraged for our future," he said.
Since the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, Food For The Poor has built 5,900 permanent two-room concrete block homes with water and sanitation, providing more than 35,400 people with a safe and secure place to live. But according to the International Organization for Migration, as of July 2015, there were still more than 61,000 earthquake victims living in camps scattered throughout the Port-au-Prince region. Additionally, Haiti is enduring the worst food crisis since 2000, due to drought and crop losses.
"We are moved by Tyler Kerr's compassionate desire to raise awareness about the needs of the truly destitute," said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. "The fact that he will be running 31 miles in rugged conditions to fundraise for the poor in Haiti is truly amazing, and on behalf of the people we serve we want to sincerely thank Sgt. Kerr for his generosity."
Kerr describes the North Face Endurance Challenge course as only about four miles of paved road during the entire run, with the rest on buffed-out single track dirt trails, rutted-out root trails and rocky terrain. He'll climb 6,000 feet in elevation during the challenge.
Kerr, a husband and father of four who turned 29 on March 30, has spent recent months preparing for the grueling challenge by running up to 14 miles on a variety of terrain, from flat roads to Rochester's Cobbs Hill Park. In the week leading up to the challenge, he'll run 25 miles.
"That last six or seven miles is going to be a gut check. There's going to be pain, but what I'm going to feel is nothing compared to the daily struggles of the poor in Haiti. Mine is temporary. It will subside in a couple hours or days," Kerr said.
To help Kerr reach his goal to help the poor in Haiti, visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/tyler and make a secure online donation.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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