Local event puts up big numbers in support of Zimbabwe orphans

Courtesy of Ellen Clark
Ellie Clark, 4, of Soquel, left, is decked out in leopard face paint as she looks up to Alexis Shohet, center, and Kela Mavhera, right. Shohet, a Carlmont High School student, took second place in the high school division of the Run for Zimbabwe, while Mavhera, a Riverside resident, finished the 1-mile race with a time of 5:26. The Zimbabwe flag hangs in back.

The 18th annual Run for Zimbabwe Orphans and Fair generated 354 runners, 83 artists and more than 1,000 used pairs of shoes donated for underprivileged kids in Africa.

Organizers said the event, held March 26 at St. Joseph School in Mountain View, also generated approximately $32,000 for the Makumbi Children’s Home.

Led by chief organizer Ellen Clark, the event featured 13 cross-country races and several milelong races for all ages.

Festivities included an artist fair, cultural booths, live music and food. Clark said the event ran under the theme “Be Fit! Create Art! Help Others!”

Although the event drew primarily local volunteers and participants, Clark pointed to one family who every year travels from Riverside in Southern California specifically for the event.

The Mavhera family, immigrants from Zimbabwe, participated in the races, with father Gray edging out his daughter Kela to win the last race of the afternoon. Son Gray Jr. also participated, finishing second in the seventh- and eighth-grade mile run.

Other notable event contributors included the Zimbabwean band Sadza from Santa Cruz County; Los Altos High School Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) and Honor Society members, who oversaw the cultural booths; the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, which displayed artwork; Tino Tugwete, Los Altos High AVID student and Zimbabwe native, who cooked sadza, his former country’s traditional food; Jade Perry, an alumna of Los Altos High, who served as fair director; and Ellen’s son, Will, who designed this year’s official event T-shirt.

Clark and her husband, Bill, longtime Los Altos residents, sponsor the event through their nonprofit Sustainable Living Foundation. Son Will’s experiences in Zimbabwe while in the Peace Corps inspired the annual run.

“It is impossible to thank all the people who made this event a go,” said Ellen, the foundation’s president. “The kids who wore those heavy mascot costumes (Zimbabwe native animals such as giraffes and elephants) definitely deserve a gold medal.”

To view a video of the 18th annual run, for full race results and for more information on the Zimbabwe orphanage, visit

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