Our story begins in Africa in the small village of Kutomwony Kenya.
In the village lives a little girl named Tegla. Telga is very small for her age, but makes up for it with a big heart and a big smile. Life in Kutomwony isn’t easy, most of the families are very poor and don’t have electricity or water to use in their home. They work very hard and often have very little to eat.
Every morning Tegla wakes up very early and feeds her family’s animals, and then makes breakfast for her brothers and sisters and helps dress them for the day. As soon as she’s done with her chores she races out the door and out onto a dusty road.
Tegla goes to school like most children, but her school is 6 miles away, which is very, very far. She doesn’t have a car or a bus, so she has to go there on foot. But Tegla doesn’t just walk to school ….
In her bare feet! But Tegla loves running. At first she didn’t love running to school. She only ran because she didn’t want to be late. But the more she ran the more she loved it. She could run the entire way without stopping once.
As she got older Tegla wanted to run in a race. But others said, “you are too small, you are too weak. You should be taking care of your brothers and sisters, not running in races.” But Tegla didn’t listen to them. She started running races anyway.
She was so good that she won a pair of shoes, so she didn’t have to run barefoot anymore!
Most of the people in Tegla’s village didn’t believe she could be a great racer, but she kept practicing anyway. She was persistent. Persistence is when you keep doing something, even when it is difficult or others don’t believe you can.
When Tegla got older she had the chance to go to America, to the big city of New York torun in a marathon. A marathon is a race that is 42 miles long. That is very, very, very far! Before running the race others told her she was too small, that she wasn’t a good racer, that she should go back home. But Tegla said, “I will show you I am a good runner, I will win the race.” But no one believed such a small woman from a poor village in Africa could do such a big thing.
When the race began it didn’t seem like Tegla was doing very good. Many other runners were in front of her, it looked like she might lose.
But she kept running, breathing deep, pushing ahead like she did when she was little and running to school in Africa. Toward the end of the race she began to run faster, and faster and faster. Soon she was passing everyone in front of her. The other racers didn’t know how she was going to fast. Before long she in front of every one else. No one believed it.
Everyone in the crowd started to cheer. Tegla dashed to the end. She had won the race! No woman from Africa had ever won the New York Marathon. Tegla had made history!
After winning the race Tegla was given thousands and thousands of dollars. She could have used the money to buy herself many nice things, she could have stayed in the nice city and never gone back to Africa. But Tegla remembered her little village, she remembered her family, and she remembered all the little boys and girls there who didn’t get to go to school and did hard chores all day. She used her money to start a school for kids who wanted to run and used it to help other kids from Africa have a better chance in life. Tegla was kind and had charity. Charity is thinking about others and doing kind things to help them out.
Like Tegla, you can be active by running or playing sports or dancing or doing gymnastics. This helps your body grow strong and healthy. It also makes your mind strong. You can also be persistent — to keep trying and trying even when something seems very hard. It might be a homework problem or a chore, but like Tegla if you keep at it you can finish it.
Like Tegla you can also be kind by using your time and other things you have to help others. Whenever someone else is in need you can remember Tegla and what she did to help make others happier.