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ADFA tees up bigger and better fundraiser

WORTHINGTON -- Kids helping kids. That simple idea was the genesis behind All Day FORE Africa in 2010. Then-15-year-old Kate Lesnar decided she wanted to raise money -- $1,000 -- to help build a water system for a school in Africa. To do so, she ...

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ADFA representatives (from left) Cory Pelzel, Kathy Lesnar, Kate lesnar and Annie Lesnar are surrounded by kids during their visit in Kibeho, Rwanda.

WORTHINGTON -- Kids helping kids.

That simple idea was the genesis behind All Day FORE Africa in 2010.

Then-15-year-old Kate Lesnar decided she wanted to raise money -- $1,000 -- to help build a water system for a school in Africa. To do so, she played a marathon round of golf and through pledges garnered more than 10 times that amount -- $10,380 -- enough to fund the entire water system for the school in Kibeho, Rwanda.

That same summer, Kate traveled to Rwanda with genocide survivor and best-selling author Immaculée Ilibagiza and was able to present the funds in person.

“When I went over there that year, I realized how much more could be done, and it grew from there,” explained Kate, now a senior with one semester of study left at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo. “And this year, we are doing so much more, so it’s very exciting.”

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Seeing is believing Wednesday will be the seventh annual All Day Fore Africa fundraiser in Worthington, and it comes on the heels of the most recent ADFA mission trip to Rwanda. Ten people traveled in June to Rwanda, where they witnessed the fruits of previous efforts and laid the groundwork for some new initiatives.

Kate’s mom, Kathy, and sister, Annie, along with the Rev. Jim Callahan of Worthington’s St. Mary’s Church, were the first wave of travelers to Rwanda. Their first task was to purchase 820 pairs of shoes to distribute to the students in Kibeho.

“It took us pretty much a full day to go to this huge market that didn’t seem like Rwanda to me,” described Annie. “We just had to guess at the sizes.”

The shoes were the Croc-type plastic clogs and basic lace-tie models, but the villagers were awed by the footwear. Having a pair of lace-up shoes, Kathy explained, is something of a status symbol and means the wearer is grown up.

The Worthington contingent also brought with them vitamins -- enough for every student at the two schools supported by ADFA for an entire year. Through Bryan Hagen at Sterling Drug, 21st Century vitamin company donated the year’s supply.

“There were 140,000 donated, and that took about 12 of our crates,” explained Sue Hagen, who was part of the mission group. “When Father Jim, Kathy and Annie went through, the airline waived the fee for their six crates. Then when we came through, they waived the other six crates. It would have been $2,400 in fees, but it was almost half a ton in vitamins.”

The vitamins will supplement the meals ADFA already provides through its Mission ABANA feeding program. Abana means “kids” in Rwanda.

“Last year, we raised money to feed these kids four days a week for a year,” explained Kathy Lesnar. “Actually, they get bread four days a week, and we pay for two days of that. So Tuesday through Friday, when they get their lunch -- a fortified bread -- they will also get their vitamins.”

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A bakery -- which was funded by the Green Bay Packers, Kathy noted -- not only provides food, but also helps with the village’s economic well being.

“It gives people a job,” said Kate. “They make the bread, they deliver the bread.”

“It’s a trickle-down, ripple effect,” added Kathy. “It has a wider effect than just feeding the kids.”

Also part of the travelers’ luggage were specialized lights that were also presented to the villagers.

“Last summer, my family and I were watching the TV show, ‘Shark Tank,’ and we saw this company called LuminAID that makes solar-powered lanterns for use in disasters,” related Annie. “Two college girls started it. Everybody just went, ‘Wow, that would be a great thing to bring to Africa.’”

The Lesnars contacted the company, which provided the lanterns at cost. The lanterns are filled with air, so they float, and though small, give out a lot of light.

The ADFA group presented the first lanterns during home visits to Prayer Partners -- Rwandans who have been matched with ADFA supporters in a unique pen-pal-type program.

“My prayer partner, we walked into her house, and she was just three feet ahead of me, but by the time she got to the middle of the room, I couldn’t see her anymore, and it was afternoon,” related Annie Lesnar.

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“Their homes are like caves, but it keeps it cool in the summer,” added Hagen.

Annie showed her friend how the lantern worked: After recharging in the sun, the light will last for eight to 10 hours.

“I haven’t found a way to describe the look on their faces when they realized we were giving this to them,” said Annie. “It’s a game-changer. To us, it’s just a light.”

Golfing in Rwanda Cory Pelzel, golf professional at GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club in Worthington, was part of the contingent, and brought along his golf clubs, which provided some entertainment.

“It all started with golf, so I wanted to bring a little bit of golf over there,” he said.

Videos captured some of the Rwandans’ comical attempts at first hitting the small ball with the club.

“The kids loved the golf,” said Kate. “Most of them have never seen or heard of golf before, and they would just scream when he would hit the ball.”

The entire trip was an eye-opening experience for Pelzel.

“I don’t think anyone can ever explain what it’s like to be there,” he said. “People here kept asking me if I was concerned about traveling to Africa, but I felt more safe there than I do here. The people are so friendly, so generous, they just want to come up and touch you.”

Hagen was also profoundly affected by the trip.

“On my first day back, I was out walking the dog, and a neighbor stopped me and told me he’d seen pictures of my trip up on Facebook. He said, ‘Did you feel sorry for them?’ And I told him that, coming back, I feel more sorry for us. They have such joy and contentment in their lives. They are so filled with love for each other and for God.”

One of the outcomes of this most recent trip was the formation of an ADFA group in Rwanda. The Worthington contingent utilized 10 local translators -- secondary students -- who came up with the idea of forming their own chapter.

“We had this time of sharing with them, talked with them about their experience,” related Kate. “They told us, ‘We want to create something here,’ and the next day at Mass, we were not expecting this, but there was suddenly a group of 27. They told us they are going to meet on a regular basis and pray and come up with ways they can help in their own country.”

ADFA T-shirts were pulled out of luggage to outfit the new recruits.

Expanding the concept Over the past seven years, ADFA has funded a water system, medical center, bathrooms for the school, dormitories, Mission ABANA and purchased lights, shoes and school supplies for the people in Kibeho. According to Pam Wendland, who keeps tabs on the organization’s finances, almost $400,000 has been raised so far.

This year’s fundraiser will add to that total by expanding the possibilities for “kids helping kids.” In 2015, 37 kids participated in the golfing event, while another 30 danced to raise funds for ADFA. On Wednesday, there will also be swimming and walking components. All ages are welcome to participate or just come out and watch.

“We are going to have people swim continuously from 10 to 5,” explained Paula Chapulis, who is heading up the pool portion. “I think I have eight swimmers so far. … We’re going to keep one lane going all the time, and then keep track of laps.”

A 5K walk-run will get under at 5:30 p.m. at Great Life, followed by a dinner from 7 to 9 p.m. and ADFA’s Got Talent Show and silent auction from 7 to 10 p.m.

“People and kids will do what (activity) they are doing during the day, then we will all come together for a big dinner and entertainment,” said Kathy. “And they can do more than one event. I think we’ve got one person who is going to do all of it.”

All participants will pay a $25 entry fee and then are encouraged to raise additional donations. The fee amount is deliberate: It’s the cost of feeding one child in Rwanda once a week for a year.

Because the dollar is so strong and currently goes further in Africa, the ADFA board decided to also support a local endeavor this year and chose the Jami Cummings Learn to Swim program at the Worthington Area YMCA to receive a portion of the proceeds.

“There is something for every single person,” said Kate. “If you ever wanted to get involved, this is the time. … They can use their passion to make a difference or support the people who are.”

The ADFA summer event schedule is as follows:

The 24-hour golf kickoff will be at 6 p.m. July 12 at GreatLIFE

All-day golf: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., GreatLIFE

All day swim: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Worthington Area YMCA

Dinner: 7 to 9 p.m., GreatLIFE

ADFA’s Got Talent and silent auction: 7 to 10 p.m., GreatLIFE

For more information, go to alldayforeafrica.com, or phone 360-0223.

Donations can be made online or by check payable to All Day FORE Africa Inc., Box 234, Worthington 56187.


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