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Teen runner collecting shoes for Ethiopians

By Fred Swegles
Oct. 08 2011

Sara Kebede - Tigrai Online

Sara Kebede, 16, can tell you that Ethiopia is home to the world's premier long-distance runners. She also can tell you that in a poverty-stricken country like Ethiopia, good running shoes are like gold to aspiring athletes.

Kebede runs track and cross country at San Clemente High School. She also has family roots in Ethiopia. She wants to help.

She has launched Shoes for Sheba, a campaign to collect gently used running shoes in Orange County. In December, she plans to take the shoes to Ethiopia to donate to young female athletes.

We asked her about it:
Q. What led you to do this?
A. After my visit to Ethiopia as a fourth-grader in 2004, I was profoundly moved by the poverty I saw in the countryside and decided to try to figure out a way that I could help those children, especially the young girls.

Q. Why shoes?
A. The Ethiopia distance-running legacy is one of prestige, and for many young girls it can be their ticket out of poverty. However, these girls lack the basic tools to reach their potential shoes.

Q. Why shoes?
A. The Ethiopia distance-running legacy is one of prestige, and for many young girls it can be their ticket out of poverty. However, these girls lack the basic tools to reach their potential shoes.

Q. So you combined your love of the sport and a desire to help?
A. As a high school athlete in Orange County, I saw how quick my teammates are to retire expensive running shoes in order to get the newest, latest and greatest shoe on the market even when their old shoes still had many miles left in them.