May 19, 2017 – Rye, NH — Lilia Potter-Schwartz had such a success with her fundraising project last year that she decided to hold a second annual Race to Educate triathlon.
Lilia, 13, a seventh-grader at Rye Junior High School, organized the first Race to Educate last year as part of her bat mitzvah charitable contribution.
“Mitzvah means good deed,” Lilia said. “I wanted to do something that meant something to people, but something that is also meaningful to me.”
After researching many charities while preparing for her bat mitzvah, Lilia chose to work with the local organization Education for all Children, founded in Rye, which currently funds 355 students in secondary and post-secondary schools in Kenya.
Lilia is currently sponsoring two girls, Cecilia and Sadia, through four years of high school.
EFAC creates opportunities for vulnerable youth in Kenya through education, life skills workshops and mentoring. Only 40 percent of children in Kenya are able to attend secondary (high) school.
“I chose this charity because I am so grateful to have a good public education here,” Lilia said. “Both Cecilia and Sadia are from modest families who struggle to pay rent and put food on the table. They are now doing well in secondary school and hope to attend university in three years.”
Lilia’s face lights up when she talks about the two young women who will be able to attend four years of high school as a result of her efforts last year.
“We write back and forth,” she said. “It’s always fun to hear from them.”
Adding to the money she made from the first triathlon, Lilia busked in Market Square playing her violin, held bake sales and sought donations. In total she raised more than $8,000. It cost $4,000 to send one child through high school in Kenya.
In addition to organizing the triathlon, which takes place Sunday, May 28, Lilia had to approach sponsors for donations, ask businesses for prize items and get permits from the towns of Portsmouth, New Castle and Rye.
She began preparations in December to get a website up and then began looking for sponsors. Kumon Reading and Math Center of Portsmouth is the event sponsor. Runners Alley and Piscataqua Savings Bank are the corporate sponsors and there are nine other smaller sponsors, Lilia said.
The triathlon starts and finishes at Portsmouth High School, with a 275-meter swim in the Portsmouth Indoor Pool, a 7.36-mile ride and a 2.5-mile run.
“It’s very family-friendly,” Lilia said. “I’m hoping to recruit 100 participants and to raise $4,000 this year, enough to sponsor one more Kenyan student.”
Lilia, the daughter of Mike Schwartz and Sharyn Potter, said she is an avid swimmer and enjoys biking and running.
“This event is not competitive at all,” she said. “It’s really about having fun and helping Education For All Children.”
Read the original article from the Seacoast Online on May 19, 2017.