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Big Red in Kenya Follow-up

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Big Red to Serve in Kenya [, 6/9/09]

By: Susan Lang, Cornell Chronicle

By day, Kevin Thompson, MRP '83, coaches Cornell's track and field team. But by night, he builds bridges to Africa as the founder and executive director of Cross World Africa Inc. (CWA), a nonprofit organization that, in part, helps prepare African youth for education in the United States.

Through CWA, Thompson recently returned with the "Big Red Travel Team" of Cornell coaches and alumni athletes from a 10-day trip (June 17-29) to Eldoret, Kenya, where the Cornellians prepped more than 40 Kenyan students for the SATs, delivered 17 computers for a lab at the new Kip Keino High School and funded a micro-finance program for women. Thompson also met with local organizers to plan a "Kip Keino Mile and Health Fair," where information on HIV/AIDS and birth control will available at a November race in Eldoret.

In addition to Thompson, the team included Nathan Taylor, the George Heekin '29 Head Coach of Men's Track and Field and Cross Country; former Cornell track team stars Aaron Merrill '08 and Adam Seabrook '08; Michelle M. Thompson, MRP '84, Ph.D. '01; and CWA board member Derek Alvez.

"[Kipchoge] 'Kip' Keino was a childhood idol of mine," said Thompson of the famed Kenyan long-distance runner. "I remember when I was 10 watching him in 1968 win an Olympic gold medal [in the 1,500-meter run]. Being a young African-American kid, I had never seen a person of color running distance, and you could just see he was an extraordinary person." Keino, dubbed an "athlete who cares," by Sports Illustrated, would go on to open an orphanage, athlete training center and two schools in western Kenya. Thompson would go on to be motivated by him.

To read the rest of the Cornell Chronicle's story on the Big Red track team in Kenya, please click here.