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TRAIL BLAZING: Malachi, Drew, and Amy.
Handout
TRAIL BLAZING: Malachi, Drew, and Amy.

Run for the children

Sports | Drew Burnett will race through the Appalachian Trail to raise money for orphans in Uganda

Issue: "2014 Books Issue," June 28, 2014

Somewhere along the northeast Appalachian Trail, Drew Burnett and Power Ranger Megaforce are trying to hike nearly 2,200 miles in 46 days. 

Burnett, 33, is an ultra-runner and former community pastor from Georgia. Power Ranger Megaforce is the rickety RV housing wife, Amy, and 6-year-old son, Malachi. The adventure began about three years ago when Amy, a schoolteacher, went to Uganda over spring break. Through Scripture and “conversation with God,” Drew said, he found a balance last year between his passions for running and orphans. “This idea sparked in my mind, and I do believe that God placed it there: Do the Appalachian Trail, attempt to break the speed record, and shed light on how big of a need there is for these orphans in Uganda.”

Specifically, he plans to raise $100,000 for the Village of Eden, an orphanage and school, through Helping Hands Foreign Missions. Executive director Stan Bell told me the school houses 18 children, but Saturday events are drawing 1,400. Drew and his support team have termed his adventure “Running for Eden.” 

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From Maine to Georgia, he has to travel 54 miles a day to break the 46-day record. If you checked the math and found something off, you’re right. He’s taking Sundays off. He made the decision to remind himself and others “it was God’s power all along.” He kept that conviction even as he trained more than 100 miles a week. “My body could be forever changed,” he said. “I’m confident that this is worth it.”

The fundraising hasn’t been quite as organized as Drew’s training regimen. Kinks and specifics of where to donate and what the money will be used for are still a bit fuzzy. But what the Burnetts’ organization lacks in grace, it makes up for in commitment. The family plans to spend three years in Uganda starting in 2015. 

By human standards, Drew has almost no chance of beating the record. But if he succeeds—and Drew says he’s going to finish regardless—the Burnetts would reach home in Georgia near the end of July. “I have the confidence that God spoke to me,” Burnett said. “And whatever He wants to do with this journey, I’m good with.”

Sore loser

Steve Coburn
Scott Serio/Cal Sport Media/AP
Steve Coburn

California Chrome left the Belmont Stakes June 7 with a bandaged foot and no Triple Crown. But it was co-owner Steve Coburn’s injured ego that made headlines. Rested Belmont winner Tonalist did not run in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, a move Coburn called “the coward’s way out.” Coburn blasted the system and compared it to playing basketball with a boy in a wheelchair. By June 9 though, he tried to make amends. Coburn’s lip quivered as he told Good Morning America he was “very ashamed.” —A.B.

Group of Death and groups of life

A former drug user reads the Bible at the God’s Love rehab center in Brazil
Associated Press/Photo by Felipe Dana
A former drug user reads the Bible at the God’s Love rehab center in Brazil

When Team USA starts World Cup play June 16, it faces what is termed the “Group of Death.” Considered the tournament’s toughest, Group G has a title contender in Germany, a historical U.S. nemesis in Ghana, and the world’s best player in Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo. But off the field, Americans are teaming up with Brazil’s churches to be groups of life. Dozens of believers have planned street evangelism and random acts of kindness. Others are praying at brothels to combat one of the world’s most pervasive human trafficking and sex industries. Go to wng.org for more on the church’s international teamwork. —A.B.

Andrew Branch
Andrew Branch

Andrew is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, N.C. He was homeschooled for 12 years and recently graduated from N.C. State University. He writes about sports and poverty for WORLD. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewABranch.

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