The past year has been difficult for Daine Dobler, of Glen Cove. Her mother died last at the end of 2017, and she nearly lost her father to cancer months later. As she struggled through this tumultuous period, her best friend and fellow runner, Donna Brady, came up with a plan to help Dobler. Brady invited her to join her in running the 2019 Berlin Marathon on Sep. 29.
“When Donna first approached me about this, I was excited,” Dobler said. “There’s nothing I love more than friends, running and Germany.”
Even though Dobler saw the trip as a chance to visit her late mother’s hometown of Lichtenfels — which she originally wanted to do with her father — she said she needed something more than a personal motive to go to Germany. Brady solved that problem by telling her they would be running as part of a team with World Vision, an international humanitarian aid organization that specializes in helping impoverished nations create self-sustaining water delivery systems.
Brady, who has sponsored children through World Vision for over a decade, climbed 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, last year with members World Vision to raise awareness of the group. Despite nights of nausea and disorientation and the loss of three toenails, Brady reached summit. But it was what came after the climb that left a lasting impact on her.
After the group descended the mountain, they traveled to a village in Kenya where the children they had sponsored gathered to meet them. Brady, who had sponsored a 6-year-old boy when she first joined World Vision in 2008, met the boy, now a 16-year-old young man, and his mother, who thanked Brady for her support.
“Sometimes when you send money over through a charity and you’re told it’s being used to sponsor a child, you have thoughts on whether or not the child is even real, but there he was,” Brady said. “I remember his mom being upset because she really wanted to host me in her house, but their village was just too far away.”
When Brady returned to the U.S., Dobler said, she noticed a change in her. Brady appeared more at peace, and that was something Dobler wanted for herself. She was still unsure about whether to enter the Berlin marathon, but she began perusing World Vision’s website and reading more about the organization’s work.
What stood out to Dobler was that World Vision wasn’t simply delivering clean water to impoverished villages. Rather, volunteers were working directly with villagers to create irrigation and sewer systems. According to the organization’s website, its goal is to promote self-sufficiency, so that those it helps can access water even after volunteers leave. Its vice president, Greg Allgood, added in a recent news release that World Vision was stepping up its efforts to bring clean water to hospitals.
“Because of the lack of basic water, sanitation and hygiene services in health care facilities, all too often what should be a joyous occasion, the miracle of birth, instead becomes a death sentence for the baby or mother,” Allgood said. “This commitment will change that risk in the next few years for millions of people …”
Sold on World Vision’s mission, Dobler eventually found a child she wanted to sponsor, in Africa. The six-year-old girl’s daily responsibility in her family, Dobler said, is to walk three miles to bring buckets of water home. Dobler hopes that her monthly contribution of $39 can free the girl of that job so she can focus on her education.
“One look at her photo and I knew she was the one I wanted to sponsor,” Dobler said. “I just sent my first letter, and now I’ll wait to hear back from her.”
For now, Dobler and Brady are running around Glen Cove, building their stamina and strength for the upcoming 26.2-mile challenge in Berlin. Last Saturday they achieved their interim goal of completing 15-mile run.
“It’s been about five years since I’ve ran a marathon,” Brady said. “I wasn’t sure if I’d ever run one again, but I’m glad to be doing this with my best friend in Glen Cove.”