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Media Memo: May 1 walk to raise funds for Latin American projects

TO:  News/Photo Editors and Directors

FROM: Judy Berthiaume, Director

DATE:  April 30, 2010

SUBJECT: May 1 walk to raise funds for Latin American projects

More than 100 people already have registered for a 5K run/walk Saturday, May 1, that will raise money for scholarships for young people in Nicaragua and support rebuilding and educational efforts in Haiti.

The third annual El Fortín 5K Run/Walk will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday (registration begins at 9 a.m.) near the Nursing building on UW-Eau Claire's lower campus.

The event is organized by LA SED (Latin American Sustainability, Education and Development), a UW-Eau Claire student organization that exists to raise awareness about the issues related to human, health and economic development in Latin America.

Half the money raised from Saturday's run/walk will be given to El Fortín, Nicaragua, to continue to promote children's education there. Remaining dollars raised at the event will be donated to Haiti to help advance rebuilding and educational structure that was destroyed by the recent earthquake.

LA SED has been a student organization for three years, with its efforts primarily aimed at fundraising and raising awareness for communities in need. The students who are involved are dedicated to promoting sustainable education and development in Latin America.

Due to extreme economic hardships, many children of El Fortín, Nicaragua, do not have the money to purchase uniforms or school supplies that are necessary to attend school. In response to this challenge, since 2008 LA SED has raised approximately $2,500 each year to maintain and expand the El Fortin Scholarship Fund. They have raised funds through weekly bake sales, pancake breakfasts (a collaboration with Applebee’s) and a 5K run/walk. Through the El Fortin Scholarship Fund, 44 children are receiving scholarships to buy new school uniforms and the supplies required for them to attend school.

In addition to education, LA SED also is committed to sustainable development. During their time in Nicaragua, the members of LA SED recognized the need for a bridge that would link El Fortín to the outside world during the rainy season. Over 18 months, LA SED raised $6,000 for bridge construction costs. It also collaborated with the Mayor's Office of Granada, Nicaragua, (http://laseduwec.blogspot.com) as well as UW-Eau Claire students who were completing their service-learning in El Fortín during the fall 2009 semester to realize the dream of constructing the bridge. The group is now engaged in a construction project to build a pedestrian bridge in El Fortín.

The organization expects to expand its efforts to other areas of Latin America.

For more information, contact Cory Ploessl, president of LA SED, at ploesscj@uwec.edu, or Kristen Racchini, vice president of the organization, at racchikm@uwec.edu.

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