Mark Gudgel is a Nebraska native who has always had a passion for non-profits and philanthropic work. With the help of a friend, he founded The Educators’ Institute for Human Rights, which is a non-profit organization that works in recovering nations from genocide. Mark is always giving back to people who need it, and that is continuing this year with Grandma’s Marathon. Because not only is Mark a philanthropic enthusiast, but he is also a cross country coach and avid runner. Mark has run numerous half marathons and this year’s Grandma’s Marathon will be his first full marathon since 2008. This year’s marathon will be a special one for Mark as he will be running with the cause of raising money and awareness for the Afghan refugees in his hometown Omaha. Which is a refugee relocation community that accepts more Afghan refugees per capita than any other state in the United States except Oklahoma.
After the collapse of the Afghan government, the Taliban seized control causing many people of Afghanistan to relocate. Omaha is a refugee relocation community and Mark is running this year’s marathon to raise money to support Afghan refugees who relocate to Omaha. He has decided to call it the “Kandahar Marathon” to remind people that not everyone has the freedom to run for health and pleasure. People are pledging Mark by the mile, and all money raised will be donated to the Refugee Empowerment Center, and earmarked to support Afghan refugees.
“Under a regime like the Taliban, running as we do isn’t possible, so the Kandahar Marathon is a moniker intended to bring light to the fact that not everyone gets to do what we do, gets to run for health and pleasure.” That is what makes this story so special. Mark’s mission is to raise money for the cause and bring awareness to a problem that many may not be aware of. This is how Mark coined the name “Kandahar Marathon” for his race this year. He shed light on the fact that a marathon isn’t possible in a city like Kandahar which is the second-largest city in Afghanistan with a population of just over six hundred thousand people. Kandahar is the birthplace of modern terrorism in Afghanistan and is under the control of the Taliban.
With it not being possible for a marathon to be held in Kandahar, Mark has brought it to the United States. What better way to bring this race and cause to the states than Grandma’s Marathon. In order to help those that are relocating to his hometown of Omaha Nebraska, he is asking people to pledge by the mile of the marathon or sign up for Grandma’s Marathon with him. Grandma’s Marathon and the Kandahar Marathon will make a great team this year as there will be plenty of support for Mark and his cause.
If you would like to learn more about Mark’s story or how you can help support check out the link here.