I am an Austin native who just moved back after being away for college and grad school in other cities/states for 7 years.
I first started running with my dad when I was 7 years old and I continued to run in order to stay in shape for club soccer. However, after I met Gilbert while running track my senior year of high school, I fell in love with the sport of running. My love for running grew in college and I started participating in the Global Run for the Water. While living in New York, I created and organized the NYC Run for the Water 5k through Central Park. This was a huge success as we raised enough money to give 18 Burundians clean water for life!
I am a graduate of SMU and Columbia University, currently attend UT Austin where I am earning my Master’s in Public Health (inspired by Gilbert and my desire to help people all over the world to have equal access to healthcare, clean water, and safe living environments) and I am also currently applying to medical school in hopes of becoming a physician one day. In my free time I run with Gilbert’s Gazelles, play pick up soccer, and play with my pup, Oreo. This will be my first ever R4TW race in Austin and I hope to create a huge impact for the people of Burundi via my role as an Ambassador!
I am a mother of 3 boys and work full time. I began running 4 years ago. Running has brought me not just joy but also great people to my life. I can't believe how supportive my running community is. It has also made me stronger both physically and mentally. It has showed me that I can achieve what I want if I work for it. So I believe more in myself every day.
Being a Run for the Water Ambassador is important to me because I want my kids and more people to know that we don't need a lot of money to change someone's life. I want them to know that there are other ways for us to help the world around us. It might not be a lot to us, but for someone out there it is.
Originally from Fort Worth, LaRae moved to Austin to attend UT. It was there that she truly discovered running. Her first race was a 5K, in which she triumphantly crossed the three-mile marker and stopped, not realizing that there was another tenth of a mile to complete the race. Since then, she has completed several 5K, 10K and half marathon races; and now hopes to cross the finish line of her first full marathon in 2020.
LaRae’s love of running, and for people, makes Run for the Water the perfect race! She loves running, not because she is good at it, or fast, but because she loves the opportunity to enjoy creation and push herself. Running brings her joy. Running gives her perspective. Running makes an impact. Running Run for the Water impacts lives across the globe! Let’s log some miles together and make a difference! Every mile matters.
Water! I knew it was essential to life, but until I learned more about the Gazelle Foundation, I underestimated the value of one water well for a community. I’m very big on education, and when we help fund the construction of a water well in a village, kids get to attend full days of school! Women and mothers can keep jobs because they aren’t hauling water from a mile away to do laundry and drink. Even the cows contribute to the better life: they don’t have to walk so far for water, so their poop stays local to create manure that improves the farmers’ harvests. That is transformational change!
I have been running for many years now and I’m not sure how many times I have run the R4TW. I am not as fast and I don’t run as far, but it still lovely to be able to enjoy a beautiful sunrise, sunset, birds, flowers, and legs that work and allow me to be healthy. Running and walking R4TW is my way of being thankful for everything I have and can give.
Erin began running with Gilbert’s Gazelles on her 40th birthday. What she intended to be a month of instruction has lasted 14 years and she sees no end in sight. When she began, a mile run was a challenge, 10 marathons, 1 ultra marathon and countless Half, 10k and 5ks later, she still cannot believe how much she has fallen in love with the people and the sport.
When the Gazelle Foundation started Run for the Water, Erin jumped in with both feet. She remembers what it is like to be a slow runner on a hot Texas day who missed there last water stop. And she knows that her thirst and has no comparison to that of the people of Burundi. Think, for one minute, about having to walk 5 miles for water (that may not be clean) just so you can have coffee, a bath, clean clothes, or dinner. And when Erin is thirsty, she remembers why we support the Gazelle Foundation and R4TW.
Erin wanted to be Ambassador for this race because she believes even slowest among us have the greatest unsung achievements!
I started running back in 2011 with my oldest daughter. During this time, we were inspired by the contestants on the Biggest Loser to run a marathon. We had made it our goal to be able to run a 5k by the end of the year and complete a marathon by the end of the next year. We signed up for the Rock N Roll San Antonio marathon in 2012 and completed it. I have ran over 359 races since then. There have been many half marathons, 10k’s 5k’s, 5-full marathons and triathlons. I’m most proud of completing the Austin70.3 half Ironman and Brazos Bend 50K, becoming an ultra-marathoner. I currently run with both my daughters. It makes me happy that we can do something together that we all enjoy.
I love the Run for the Water race Gazelle Foundation. They work towards improving the quality of life for Burundi and providing access to clean water. I look forward to running the race with my daughters.
Linda grew up playing volleyball, but after playing in college, she began to venture into another love – running. She now competes in triathlons, and Run for the Water has always had a special place in her heart. She has competed the last three years, and this race led her to realize how much she loved not only the competitive aspect of running, but also the community and causes that the sport of running supports. Over the years, this race has given her perspective on what running can truly do not only for an individual, but for a bigger collective group of people. When Linda runs through the streets of her favorite city, Run for the Water always keeps her grounded in the bigger picture, and reminds her why she loves running. She looks forward to spreading the word on R4TW and how running is more than a form of exercise – it’s a form of community and a way to highlight and contribute to an AMAZING cause.
Kayleigh completed her first Run For The Water 10 miler in 2016 becoming the first person with Down Syndrome to complete the 10 mile course. Her first race took her 5 hours to complete – as it was also her first long distance race. Since then, she has completed R4TW two more times and with each race, she has shaved over an hour off her time. Last year was her first year to complete the race while the time strips were still down and for her finish to count timewise. From that first race in 2016, she has continued on to complete 6 half marathons and earned her Austin Distance Challenge jacket on her third try earlier this year.
Today, she is a part of a running group for disabled runners called Kayleigh’s Club and she is a published author of a children’s book, It’s Cool To Be Me. She hopes with each race to inspire others to run for their health and for an important cause like water wells in Burundi.
2019 Run for the Water Ambassador Program
Meet out first annual Run for the Water Ambassadors! This team of amazing people are helping us spread the word about our race and our mission, and are TRANSFORMING LIVES in Burundi!
I am very passionate about running and fitness in general. I also LOVE to bring people together and create community! As a Camp Gladiator Partner Trainer, a Gazelle and an immigrant myself, I very strongly feel called to help the people of Burundi and live out the mission of the Gazelle foundation!! EVERYONE deserves clean water and I am thankful for the opportunity to do my part!
Jen started running late in high school when she quit playing volleyball and thought it was time to take advantage of Austin High’s pristine Town Lake location. Inspired by a teacher to run the 3M half marathon her senior year, she was introduced to the amazing Austin running community and is thankful to be a part of it. Her first marathon was Austin in 2009, which was the same season she completed the Distance Challenge and ran her first Run for the Water. Currently training with Rogue to run CIM in December, Jen is happy to be a R4TW Ambassador and promote a race that is not only quintessentially Austin but does so much good for so many people. A self-proclaimed Gilbert fan girl, Jen loves the reminder to do everything with joy and truly thinks it makes the most trying tasks valuable encounters.
A UT grad, Jen is proud of her Austin upbringing and tries to incorporate the best of the city in everything she does. You can find her early mornings running around the trail and cooling off in Barton Springs, yoga-ing at Wanderlust, or eating breakfast tacos with her husband, Kyle, and their goldendoodle Daisy.
Coleman is a native of Austin, Texas who recently returned to his beloved birthplace after having worked in Washington, DC.
His interest in running grew as he came to know family friend, Gilbert Tuhabonye. Through the learning of his dramatic story of survival, and Gilbert’s encouragement, Coleman caught the running bug. Coleman found Gilbert’s positive energy, enthusiasm, and infectious joy inspirational and in the summer of 2011, he chose to participate in the Work for the Water trip to Burundi, Africa. It was this particular trip which proved to be transformative in Coleman’s desire to give back and to offer hope to others less fortunate. Inspired by the people of Burundi, and the Gazelle Foundation’s efforts and results, Coleman has learned tremendous lesson in volunteerism. He enjoys taking an active part in his community in effort to make a difference. He is more than excited to be back here in Austin helping to raise awareness in the plight of the people of Burundi who deserve one of humanities basic needs: fresh, clean drinking water.
Coleman is a graduate of the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and is an Agency Leasing Associate with JLL. In his spare time, he enjoys running the trail at Lady Bird Lake.
Mary has always liked running, but ran alone until last September when she joined Rise and Run South Austin. Through the group she learned about Run for the Water and the noble work behind the race. And she was super excited to attempt her first 10-mile run! The race turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences of her life. She crossed the finish line with tears of joy because she felt so much love from the people cheering and of the music from the Burundian drummers.
From there, she finished the Decker Challenge, the Austin Half-Marathon, and most recently she ran 40 miles with her coach to celebrate her birthday. Mary plans to run her first full marathon in San Antonio this December. Afterwards, she plans to take on the Austin Marathon, which holds special meaning to her as Austin is where she discovered her passion for running and fell deeply in love with the beauty of the city.
Mary is very excited to be an Ambassador for Run for the Water and the noble cause of helping the people of Burundi! Thank you for this opportunity!
Patrick has been lucky enough to live all over the world but he calls Texas home.
After a first brief visit to Austin in 1992, from the Dallas/Ft Worth area, he fell in love with the town. He moved to Austin in 1993 And met his lovely wife Claudia, who is also a Gazelle. Patrick’s family includes two beloved dogs, one named Huck, and the other Mr. Frito
After his debut marathon in Austin, which did not quite go to plan, Patrick Joined The Gazelles, and has been a happy Gazelle for 7 years. It is not uncommon to have a Patrick sighting on the trail any day of the week. He is easy to spot with a tattoo covering his entire back. He might look serious, but that is just because he’s bad at smiling while running. He’s actually very friendly, kind of goofy, and doesn’t bite. Feel free to approach without caution.
My running career has spanned 30 years. From my first mile on the track in junior high, to celebrating my 40 birthday with another full marathon, I never stopped running. I have run and/or paced everything from a 5k to a 100 mile ultra. This will be my 5th R4TW, including the very first one back in 07. My 10 mile PR (1:21) is also on this course. It’s special to me because it combines two things I love most, running and giving back to an amazing cause. Running is a lifestyle I get to enjoy thanks to the many things we take for granted daily. Not everyone has those same privileges, so the least I can do is run and raise awareness for those who can’t and don’t even have the privilege of so much, including clean water.
Mark was first introduced to the Run for the Water by a professor at UT Austin— and he hasn’t looked back since. The Gazelle Foundation sparked his passion for running and for supporting the mission to give the people of Burundi, and everyone else in the world, access to clean water.
Currently Mark resides in downtown Austin, and you can catch him on Lady Bird Lake trail any day of the week. He loves listening to music while running and is always happy to meet fellow runners and exchange playlists!
Mark’s goal as a Run for the Water ambassador is to encourage as many people as possible to run with joy on race day.