By Lisa Hughes

BOSTON (CBS) — The connection between the Boston Marathon and Kenya just got stronger, and kids at “Flying Kites” soaring because of it.

This year, for the first time, four runners are raising money for “Flying Kites,” a Boston-based charity and school in Ruran, Kenya. Thanks to donors — 80 percent of whom live in Boston — kids in Kenya get to go to school.

One of those runners is a Wellesley man who knows firsthand how education can change your life. And ahead of his 26.2 mile run in a few weeks, he’s received a long-distance thank you.

“It’s a powerful experience,” Graham Masiiwa told WBZ-TV.

Masiiwa moved to Massachusetts from Zimbabwe 17 years ago for school — and opportunity. Now an admissions counselor and coach at the private Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Graham knows how fortunate these students are.

marathonkites Boston Marathon Runners Raising Money To Provide School, Shelter For Orphans In Kenya

Graham Masiiwa. (WBZ-TV)

He also knows how lucky he is, and calls running for kids in Kenya a dream come true.

“Being a kid growing up in Zimbabwe and being sent home for not having tuition for school, and now being able to provide that for another kid … it’s come full circle,” he said. “About 70 percent of our kids are orphaned.”

Flying Kites co-founder and executive director Leila De Bruyne says the impact of Marathon fundraising is huge.

“In the lives of these children, it makes a tremendous difference,” she said. “But even in the in the lives of the wider community.”

That community is also what draws Masiiwa to running. On a rainy day, it’s a solitary endeavor in the Dana Hall Gym.

But come Marathon Monday, it’s all about connection — with runners, spectators, and a special cheering section 7,000 miles away.

“You know you’re running for something bigger than yourself,” said Masiiwa. “Every mile that I’m running — painful or not painful –I know that there’s someone who is going to  smile at the end of the day.”

In addition to an education, kids at “Flying Kites” also get three meals a day, outdoor programs and, in some cases, housing. The goal now is to open a teacher training center and raise the level of education even more.


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