Students in charitable bid to run with Haile Gebrselassie

North Leeds teenagers who are hoping to join Olympic legend Haile Gebrselassie on a charity 10k run in his native Ethiopia by raising �1,000 each. From left Alex Dobson, Rob Parker, Elliott Lewis, Oliver Firth, James Sweeney and George Ryalls. Picture by Steve Riding.
North Leeds teenagers who are hoping to join Olympic legend Haile Gebrselassie on a charity 10k run in his native Ethiopia by raising �1,000 each. From left Alex Dobson, Rob Parker, Elliott Lewis, Oliver Firth, James Sweeney and George Ryalls. Picture by Steve Riding.
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Six charity-minded students are hoping to raise money for a trip to Ethiopia that will see them run alongside the greatest distance runner in history.

Abbey Grange CofE Academy Sixth Form student Alex Dobson, 16, and his friends are aiming to generate £1,000 each to enable them to travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in November to both take part in charity work and join Olympic legend Haile Gebrselassie on his Great Ethiopian Run alongside 40,000 others. The event is the biggest mass participation run in Africa.

Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie. Picture by Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie. Picture by Adam Davy/PA Wire.

The group, of whom most play football together for Wigton Moor Junior Football Club, have each managed to raise around half their targets so far through everything from selling lollipops to washing cars.

They will jet over to Ethiopia with the academy’s vice principal to help in both staging and taking part in the run while also working with educational charity Partners for Change.

Alex, who lives in Meanwood, told the YEP: “We’d be going around and meeting kids and schools out there. We just think it would be a great experience and we are also making links between Leeds and Addis Ababa – it would be great to help people out while we are out there.”

Aside from the challenge of charity work, Alex along with Jim Sweeney, Elliott Lewis, Oliver Firth, Rob Parker and George Ryalls are also gearing up for the prospect of running 10 kilometres in unrelenting heat.

“We are all pretty strong runners and play football so we are at a decent level, it would be a struggle and a challenge to run the 10k in Ethiopian heat but it should be doable.”

Paul Cooper, vice principal at Abbey Grange, hopes this will be the first of many charity trips to Ethiopia which will forge strong links with African charities.

“The students are incredibly excited about the idea of going to Ethiopia as a country but more excited about the prospect of getting involved with the charity work,” he said.

“They are also raising money for the charity on top of their expenses – they want to forge those links with charities over there.”

The group will host a fundraising pie and peas evening for 120 people at Meanwood Parochial Church Hall, in Church Lane, featuring a raffle and quiz on October 11 from 7pm. Businesses including Papa John’s, Zucco and Via Verde donated raffle prizes to help the group reach their fundraising target.

For information or to donate email dobbo.leeds@live.co.uk.

LEGENDARY ATHLETE

Haile Gebrselassie’s career highlights include winning 10,000-metre gold medals at the 1996 and 200 Olympics.

The 41-year-old, from Addis Ababa, famously made three-hour round trips into the mountains to bring water to his village during his childhood before breaking into athletics.

He is now the race director of the Great Ethiopian Run which has staged over 80 charity races since 2001.

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