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October 30, 2009
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
MARY WITTENBERG: This is a very special introduction for us and New York Road Runners. Shoe 4 Africa is a charity that's the star of the stage at this moment. And I just want to welcome our very good friends, our board of director member Toby Tanser. Anthony Edwards, Tegla, of course, and Sarah Jones.
And just say that we have watched Toby Tanser take this really, really big idea, which had no money behind it, no support behind it, and he is now executing against that big idea in a major way.
And Anthony came on board to make a tremendous difference in making it happen. And now they've, I'd say, have a grass roots, a ground swell of energy and support in achieving their really important goals. I'll leave them to talk to you about it. But I don't have to say, it would be no surprise to say that any commitment to Africa is a commitment that I hope all of us in long distance running would share, but certainly all of us at New York Road Runners do.
So we appreciate all you're doing, and really applaud you. And are looking forward to welcoming you to the finish line on marathon day.
SARA HUNNINGHAKE: I'll just start with introductions across the row. On the end, the founder of Shoe 4 Africa, Toby Tanser, and the leader of the group. Actor, Anthony Edwards, who is also chairman of Shoe 4 Africa. Tegla Laroupe, one of our marathoners of the decade and two-time New York City champion, really a legend. And Tony Award winning actress, Sarah Jones. If you haven't seen the New York Times piece, it is quite entertaining.
I guess, maybe, Toby could you just start quickly and give an overview of how the team became involved in running this marathon as a fundraising event?
TOBY TANSER: It was also an idea that you have 30 million runners in America. And they're the most philanthropic good, helpful people. So we tried to actually work a way that we could work with the New York Road Runners to get our team together to get our message out. To say if these runners all just gave a $10 donation, we'd be way over budget.
So if we could reach out to a few and put our message across to the biggest and greatest marathon in the world, what a great forum to begin with.
I decided George Hirsch, who is the chairman of the board for the New York Road Runners, he was really pushing the charity idea. Go on, make this team. So we got this team. And as you can see, I have a wonderful team here. I mean, the dream team I would say for the marathon.
SARA HUNNINGHAKE: What sort of impact did you see on fundraising as a means or as a result of committing to the marathon?
ANTHONY EDWARDS: It was kind of a galvanizing force for us. Because you need a specific date to rally the troops around. The unfortunate part of receiving the generous gift of charitable entries to the marathon is when you make that first phone call to ask somebody to run for your charity you realize, oh, oh, I guess I have to run as well, too. So it was the personal sacrifice has been there.
But the upside has been the fact that we've had, actually, this is one part of our team. We actually have 30 runners on our team who have all raised substantial amounts of money and we'll all be together in this. We'll all be wearing these on Sunday. So you won't be able to miss us.
As Toby said it's a good opportunity. We're at the beginning of our fundraising, and this is a good opportunity for us to get the idea out there. So this is a beginning for us.
SARA HUNNINGHAKE: Tegla, last month your brother died as a result of not having enough resources within the health care industry. Can you just tell us a little bit more about how that might have impacted you in your decision to run?
TEGLA LAROUPE: Well, I want to thank Toby for this wonderful idea. There are many children dying in Africa. We can help. And I remember last month my brother was -- he was sick, but he was not sick yet. He was given the wrong medication that affected his liver and he was supposed to go for the university this time next year. So I realize that I have to do something also to support. And other people can relate, it will save many lives.
SARA HUNNINGHAKE: And Sarah, can you just perhaps even taking off the New York Times story, tell us a little bit more about how running has really impacted you and running as a part of this team?
SARAH JONES: I think the opportunity to share with not only another actor, but runners, who kind of -- everybody understands the benefit of running. Whatever you do in your professional life is this great democratizing force, I think. Even in the city of New York wherever I run. I live downtown. I run in Central Park. Wherever I run you see faces like ours, a rainbow of faces, a range of class groups. Anybody who can get their hands on a pair of sneakers can be part of something that's not only great for them, but in a case like this with Shoe 4 Africa, there is kind of a connecting idea about how we can be generous with each other. How we can recognize our family across the world who need our support. So this is a fantastic opportunity for me.
Q. Can you talk about or Anthony, talk about the charity and what you're seeking to accomplish?
ANTHONY EDWARDS: I was just going to jump in to say what we're doing here which is making us all so excited is we have an opportunity to build the first public children's hospital in Kenya. This will be the largest children's hospital in all of Africa.
There is actually no pediatric teaching facility that we can find, teaching hospital like we would find at Columbia children's hospital or these different children's hospitals that we have.
So as Tegla so unfortunately had to experience in her own life, the access to health care is so limited that someone asked me the other day why wouldn't you do something for U.S. kids? When you see the disparity and the fact that 80% of the children who die in Africa die without ever seeing a health care provider, and the two-thirds of those deaths are preventable, we have a lot of catch up to do before we can get some kind of even playing field.
So I was fortunate enough a few days ago to be with Bill and Melinda Gates and they were proving and talking about their project, which is called the living proof project, that they have all of the diagrams and statistics to show that by helping third world countries or underprivileged countries with health care and with education, that when the energy and the money goes into that, our benefit is huge.
So it's kind of in that spirit of looking at it as a globe, as opposed to us versus them or an American versus Africa issue. And Shoe 4 Africa does that well. Because Toby Tanser has spent the last 15 years of his life back and forth between Kenya making those connections. And it led to that experience of doing the women's empowerment races, and the health races.
The work that he's done there as a runner is to the point now where the government has asked him to spearhead this cause to actually build this hospital. So we're here as a result of a progression.
TOBY TANSER: It's a crazy situation. Like Tegla can well explain to you. Tegla was telling me the story yesterday about a woman who went 300 kilometers to the hospital. And myself it breaks my heart when I see mothers pushing their children in wheelbarrows coming to the hospitals. And every mother having ten children because she's fully expecting five of them to die.
It's all about birth rights. You know, I have a strange accent, so people always ask me where are you from? I could have been born in Kenya. I could have been -- Tegla, you're a great example of somebody who has really stepped beyond and come from so high up in the mountains.
But for the true reality is that we take health care as a granted birth rite. And over in Kenya, like Tony says, two out of three are preventable, those deaths. Breaks my heart because every time I see a child there, this is also my tenth anniversary of being attacked in Kenya, and if I had actually been staying in Kenya and getting the health care -- no, it was in Tanzania, sorry. I'd be dead today, that's a fact.
I was lucky. I had an etiquette, but how many people over there? 92% of Kenyans live off less than $1 a day. Maybe, Tegla, you could say something about that.
TEGLA LAROUPE: I just want to tell you a story of a woman who traveled 300 kilometers to get just medicine for her kids. But when she got to this clinic, the baby was not able to eat. And nobody wanted to help this woman because they did not have enough.
And maybe it was good luck for her I came just -- I went there to just check the kids in the hospital. But I was wearing clothes like any other woman in the village. And they didn't want to help.
I asked what's wrong with the baby? And they say the mother doesn't want to buy infusion. I asked the doctors can you see the woman even if she doesn't have clothes? And because you don't have enough medicine, I asked can I buy for her? And they told me it's too expensive.
Somebody came and said this is Tegla Laroupe, you cannot talk to her like that. And I told it's not a matter of it's Tegla Laroupe. But these kids they were still 1 per 3 children sharing. Okay. I called the doctor and then the baby was still there, they took the blood. They found out that the boy had tuberculosis, of which he could be spreading to the others.
So I realized this woman traveling 300 kilometers, no water, no nothing on the way, and because just to get medicine. And here I think that you cannot travel here 5 kilometers before you have another option to help. For me, if you can put our hands together, you can save other people.
Last month I was in Kenya people asked me why don't you run a marathon? We understand you are going to New York to run for the charity. And I said, listen, if other people come from outside our country trying to do something for us, I think it's an opportunity for me also to go and join. It's something that all of us can give us an opportunity to help, so we can try and save other lives.
Q. Toby, I know that your charity started out by runners donating their shoes. And it's taken a step up with the hospital. I'm wondering if the shoe program is still going on.
TOBY TANSER: It surely is. This year we hijacked and orphanage. We went to the orphanage, stole all the children, and took them out to the country and gave them all shoes. And we also had a race a month ago for deaf and disabled children where we're giving them mosquito nets and we also gave them shoes. So we're still doing the shoe program.
One unique thing about our charity. We don't have a staff, we don't have an office, we don't have a vehicle. So we have no virtual running costs. And everyone's donation goes 100% to the hospital. All these other projects that we're putting on, like we gave out 12,000 pairs of shoes last December in Kenya. Were paid through private donations, not the donations that people are giving towards the hospital.
So what this caused us to do is scale a little bit bat. And we have a great program that Natalie Portman was kind enough to announce in In Style Magazine, if you buy a new pair of shoes for $120, why not put the old pair in the box and send them over to our office, and we pick them up.
Because putting on a race when we actually brought in those 12 thousands pairs of shoes, cost us $30 to 40,000 to do. So it was logistically tough to do both as fundraising for the hospital, and having 100% of everyone's donation to go to the hospital. But the shoe program is still running. We're still giving out thousands of pairs of shoes in Kenya.
Q. You are really fast, and not to disparage the other folks --
ANTHONY EDWARDS: We're really slow (laughing).
TEGLA LAROUPE: Are you going to wear weights or something?
SARAH JONES: She's going to carry me.
TEGLA LAROUPE: I'm going to carry Sarah (laughing).
Q. As a runner, an elite runner, is it going to be challenging to run slower?
TEGLA LAROUPE: Well, I think I'm going to enjoy the race. One thing is I don't have the weight on my shoulders like when we are comparing to compete with people and somebody else. And again, it will be my first time to run and just wave around to the people, because they helped me from 1994 to now. So it's kind of, yeah, we're going to have fun.
Q. There are millions of school children in the United States who get involved and get engaged in all kinds of fundraising endeavors. And this sounds like a wonderful one. How can school administrators, me being a former one, how can we contact your organization to learn how we can organize within our own districts, cities, towns around the United States, and around the world to develop a program to collect shoes and donate them to you?
ANTHONY EDWARDS: That's, once again, the good thing about the size of our organization is you're looking at it. So we're very easy to get ahold of. And everything is going through the internet. You can go online and go through our website through Shoe4Africa.org. And answers will be had, and we have ways to help organize people.
Q. Are your scrub shirts technical fabric or hospital grade cotton?
ANTHONY EDWARDS: You'll have to touch it (laughing). No, a great company called WNL, who is actually making scrubs. They're making a line of designer scrubs. The designer of it happens to be a friend of mine. So I said can you make us some running ones. So they've taken their scrub design and made it out of a running material. So it is nice.
Q. How much money have you guys raised so far for the hospital?
ANTHONY EDWARDS: Our overall fundraising since we started about six months ago, maybe? I think six?
TOBY TANSER: We had the bad luck. We've never fundraised for the first 15 years, then when we started fundraising, the economy collapsed. And our only sponsor comes from Iceland, which is the first country in the history of the world to go bankrupt. So we're at $600,000.
ANTHONY EDWARDS: We're at $600,000 right now. When we get to a million, million and a half we'll start digging the foundation. Building the hospital, the unsexy part is the bricks and mortar, and that's about 4.5 to 5 million dollars in our case. All the beds and equipment are something that people are lined up ready to do. We have a partnership with Americare, they're ready to bring equipment. GE is bringing stuff. This is kind of the grass roots foundation, literally, of what it takes to build a building there.
Q. Are you all running together? I know you talked about Tegla slowing down a little bit. Are you going to run in one pact.
TOBY TANSER: Sarah's keeping us together, right?
SARAH JONES: I'm going to try.
ANTHONY EDWARDS: In this color, you have to run together or else you'll get beat up (laughing).
Q. Can you elaborate a little bit on the efforts and the things that you've experienced starting with Shoes 4 Africa, leading up to the hospital, you know, walking with the hospital? Can you elaborate a little to the media how difficult a task it is to get to the point where you are today?
TOBY TANSER: I'm a great delegator. When I'm over in Africa, on the Kenyan flag there is the word Harambee, and that means pulling together. And the Kenyan spirit, the African spirit is if the roof is falling down, then everybody comes to help. And you'll hear it a lot.
Africans will talk about my brother, my sister. Everyone is her sister. Oh, you're related? Like no, no, no, they're from that village. It's my sister. So there is this whole great community over there that we can tap into. And Shoe 4 Africa goes over and empower empowers the local people.
So a lot of our organization is about women's empowerment. So we try to get everybody over there to help us. And by doing this it enables us to have no staff. So it's truly a group effort that we actually do.
Kenya is the most wonderful country for getting this done, because the people are so receptive, so helpful. And all that we've done has been the efforts of the African people as well. So it's truly an African project.
Q. How did you guys get hooked up with the Funny Or Die website for the video you had out recently, which was a hoot if anyone hasn't seen it. But I know it was like sat fire promotional.
ANTHONY EDWARDS: Yeah, we've been working the last couple of months with a great PR firm called IDPR, and a woman there Nathalie Lent has been helping us a lot with the Blog and Twitter. I started Twittering like ten days ago, and brought me into that world.
And Natalie has a long time relationship with Funny Or Die. And do you want to do something? And we literally got together on Friday, threw around some ideas. And Monday we shot it, and it was up and we had 10,000 views in the first day on Wednesday. So we're proud of it.
If you want to get people's money, you've got to make them laugh first?
Q. So are you going to rollerblade on Sunday?
ANTHONY EDWARDS: I might. I might get George Hirsch on rollerblades.
SARA HUNNINGHAKE: I don't think that would be a good idea. Thank you so much.
End of FastScripts