Lake Norman & Mooresville

Run Wild race helps marks opening of orphan care community in Kenya

The African Children’s Project’s grand opening of its first children’s home in Kenya will coincide with the fourth annual Run Wild 10K/5K and Wild Child Fun Run on May 9 in Huntersville.

Proceeds from the race benefit the nonprofit project.

“This year’s race is truly a celebration for us,” said African Children’s Project Executive Director Melanie Freshour of Huntersville. “As hundreds of runners and walkers join us in Huntersville, our Embu team (in Kenya) will be hosting a grand opening celebration there.”

The two-story home that will house eight children was completed late last year under the supervision of Mooresville residents Jason and Amy Yon, who relocated from North Carolina to Embu, Kenya, in 2013 to establish the African Children’s Project’s orphan care ministry.

The ministry provides family-style orphan care communities that offer holistic, long-term care for children orphaned as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya.

House parents will live on the first floor of the new home with the children, while the Yon family lives upstairs. In addition to meeting the basic needs of each child, they will also cover the costs of medical treatments, school tuition and tutoring fees.

Despite some unexpected delays with the home’s government registration, Freshour said, “We have hired a social worker, completed house parent interviews and anticipate welcoming (the) children home in May.”

Freshour also praised the generosity of the new and returning race sponsors.

The Run Wild event, held at the Birkdale Residents Club, has raised more than $80,000 for this project. Last year, 700 registrants participated and more than $28,000 was raised. Registrants can choose from a 5K run/walk, the Wild Child one-mile fun run/walk or new this year, a 10K race.

“There seemed to be a lack of 10K race opportunities in this area,” said communications director JoEllen Price. “After three successful races, we felt up to the task of adding one to our event.”

The Wild Child Fun Run welcomes children 11 and younger, while the 10K and 5K are open to all ages. Awards will be presented to the top three male and female finishers in both races.

With participants ranging in age from 14 to older than 60, and across a wide range of athletic ability, the event lives up to its name that was based on a Kenyan tradition.

“There is an annual wildebeest migration where mind-blowing herds of them just run all tightly packed from Kenya to Tanzania looking for pasture,” Freshour said. “Their lack of a predictable running pattern led to the name, Run Wild.”

Jennifer Baxter is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jennifer? Email her at

Learn more:

The Run Wild event is held at the Birkdale Residents Club, 8915 Devonshire Drive. Fees are $35 for the 10K, $25 for the 5K and $10 for the one-mile Wild Child Fun Run.

Participants can register at the race for an additional $5 per entry, or in advance through May 8, by going to or Fleet Feet, 16620 Cranlyn Road, Huntersville.