An athlete who left their village for success in the United States has returned with a gift that will change the lives of the people of Iten in the Rift Valley. Simbolei Ladies' Preparatory Academy, a high school founded by athlete Richard Kaitany and his wife Andrea, will officially open its doors in May to provide the girls a shot at an education. In a conversation with Runner's World, Kaitany said he felt moved to give back to the community because of his own formative years.
The athlete, who was raised on the outskirts of Iten, finished elementary school before transferring to St. Patrick's High School, where he had second thoughts about turning to sports as a vocation. However, his high school coach persuaded him to pursue the profession because, in 1974, most American Universities were progressively giving athletes scholarships.
When Kaitany's former coach, Norm Thomson, a Peace Corps volunteer, forwarded his exam results to Iowa State University and he was awarded a scholarship, his life was forever transformed. His local community assisted in paying for his plane ticket to the US, and while attending the university, he won several marathon championships. Additionally, he was hired by a seed business in Iowa State.
The first cohort in the school are 19 students, all of whom are on scholarship. Some are financed by external organisations such as Belgian-based health and fitness giant Golazo.
Andrea is a native Iowan who was studying English when she met Kaitany. The couple is blessed with four children.He then utilized the athletics scholarship to get both a PhD and a master's degree. He ran in the 1998 Chicago Marathon, finishing first, and taking home Ksh1.1 million (USD10,000). The professional route, however, was pushed by his high school coach since at the time, in 1974, most American Universities were gradually giving sports scholarships.
Kaitany's life was forever altered when his former coach, Norm Thomson, a Peace Corps member, forwarded his exam results to Iowa State University and helped him obtain a scholarship. He received assistance from his community in purchasing his airline ticket to the US, and while attending the university, he won several marathon championships. Additionally, he was hired by an Iowa State seed firm.
Later, he obtained a PhD and a master's degree using the athletics scholarship. He ran the Chicago Marathon in 1998 and came away with Ksh1.1 million (USD10,000). 19 scholarship-eligible students make up the school's initial cohort. Some are supported by other entities like the Belgian health and fitness behemoth Golazo.
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