>Look What I Can Do!>16 year old marathon directors
It's the question they dread most: What did you do on your summer vacation? Not because Phil Carlitz and Andrew Hudis, both 16, spent their time slacking off or honing their Guitar Hero skills. No, the problem is conveying the magnitude of what they accomplished: Organizing a marathon in a remote province in Thailand, more than 8,000 miles from their homes in southeastern Pennsylvania, to raise money and awareness for a group of Myanmarese refugees.
"I took a driving lesson the other day, and the instructor asked me what I did for the summer," says Hudis. "I thought to myself, oh no. Even by the end of the lesson I don't think he understood."
The boys' transformation into running humanitarians began in the summer of 2008, when they signed up for Rustic Pathways, a global community service program for students. While traveling along the border of Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma), they met Karen people, a minority group persecuted by Myanmar's dictatorial government and forced to flee into Thailand where many are trapped in refugee camps, with little hope of an education, a job, or a future. Hudis and Carlitz were moved by the circumstances they saw Karen kids their own age facing: Many live in bamboo huts. With no money, they're forced to make their own clothes and grow their own food. And with their parents dead or stuck across the border, they basically raise themselves.
"In America, kids always complain about school," Hudis says. "But these refugees told us, 'All we want to do is go to university and learn.' You realize that we have it a lot easier than we think."
While still in Thailand, the passionate runners discussed running a marathon to raise money for an orphanage in Mae Sariang. But when they presented their notion to Rustic Pathways' founder, David Venning, he pushed them to think bigger. "Don't just run a marathon," he told them. "Run a marathon—right there in Mae Sariang."
It says something about the teenage mind—or at least about these particular teenage minds—that they didn't need any other encouragement than that. The boys started laying the groundwork for a race they would hold the following summer. They returned to the States for their sophomore years and continued their race preparations between student-council and debate-team meetings.
Finally, this past July, they traveled back to oversee the Rustic Pathways Tribe-to-Tribe Marathon. They had hoped for a few dozen runners, but 500 people—including people from Australia, Japan, England, and the United States—raced in the marathon, half, and 5-K. About $10,000 was raised for the orphanage. "In a country where a shirt costs 60 cents and you can eat for a quarter, that money goes pretty far," Hudis says. "We are putting 25 teenage refugees through high school." Just as important, the race raised awareness about the plight of the Karen people.
And they are going to do it again—Carlitz and Hudis have committed to the event for a decade, and hope to turn Tribe-to-Tribe into a destination race that raises $250,000 annually for the refugees. Of course, the two are not too young to realize they themselves may be the biggest beneficiaries. "It showed me how helping people really makes you feel," Carlitz says. "If I could do that for a living, you know, that's the job for me."
Now Andrew Phil and their team organize races in Pennsylvania. Check the races out at:
I like they way the course is described.
Books I Have Read
Last Race: Portland Maine Half Marathon October 5 2014
The article says nothing about the parents. How does one raise their kids to be nice, responsible and generous?
I am thinking the parents did something right. I am currently raising a 3 year old going on 13.
Nulla camisia et nulla problematum