Kimberly Rensel runs with her daughters Sadie Rensel, 7½, and Savannah Rensel, 6, near their home in Katy. She is running to raise money to go on a mission to Africa.
Kimberly Rensel is running for a cause – and looking for support to enable her to fulfill a lifelong dream.
Rensel, a resident of Katy, said she has never been a religious person but she is spiritual and not one to ignore a sign.
Ever since she was 17, Rensel has felt called to go on a mission to Africa, but she never found the right venue.
“Now I’m 40 and I’m a person who if I say I’m going to do something, then I’m going to do it,” she said.
Rensel said the time had come. On a long drive last December, the thought, “Africa 2015,” popped into her mind. She looked up and saw a shooting star.
“I got chills,” she said. “I started calling around.”
Rensel’s search for organizations led her to Family Legacy, a missionary group that serves orphaned children in Zambia.
She immediately signed up.
Michael Hatley, spokesman for Family Legacy, said the Texas-based organization was founded by Greg Kendall, who lived in Zambia until he was 6.
In 2000, Kendall traveled back to the country of his birth, a trip that ended up changing his life.
“He saw children running around everywhere,” Hatley said. “He asked his cab driver what holiday it was and why the children were out of school. They were orphans, the driver said.”
The trip opened Kendall’s eyes to the orphan crisis in Zambia. He established Family Legacy and began to set up schools and summer camps in the country.
Hatley said great strides have been made through Family Legacy but much work remains to be done.
He explained that one million adults and 160,000 children are infected with HIV, that 69 percent of Zambians earn less than $1.25 a day and that the average life expectancy for males is 50.
He added that 18 percent of children do not live to see their fifth birthdays and that 66.5 percent of the population in Zambia is under the age of 15.
“How do you change a country like that?” Hatley mused. “You do it through education.”
Every summer, Family Legacy brings Americans to Zambia to lead educational camps for village orphans.
“When Kimberly goes there, she will work with these kids and she will fall in love with these kids,” Hatley said.
Running for a cause
Rensel said Family Legacy appealed to her because she has children of her own.
To go on the trip, she needs to raise $25,000 – which will cover the cost of 10 children going to summer camp – as well as sponsorship for those children for the rest of the year.
“These children will get housing, clothes and education,” Rensel said. “By starting with the youth and getting them educated, we can give them hope to do something and to make a difference in their own country.”
To raise the necessary funding, Rensel has started a “Reason2Race” campaign online.
Her goal is to run 1,000 miles by June 2015, which is a challenge for this single mom with two children and a full-time job as physician liaison at Memorial Hermann, Memorial City Medical Center.
“I can’t just run whenever I want,” she said.
Rensel has already run more than 500 miles since June 14, but her fundraising has just begun. She will need more support to meet her goal. As of Sept. 10, she has raised $1,681.
She hopes that by embarking on this journey, she will also inspire her daughters – 7½-year old Sadie and 6-year old Savannah.
Rensel plans to take the two girls to Zambia for another Family Legacy mission in 2016.
Rensel said that she wants her daughters to see firsthand what it is like in other countries so they can be grateful for what they have and so they will be inspired to help others.
“Our children over here are given so many opportunities to reach their potential,” she said. “In other countries, they don’t even have an opportunity. I don’t know if that’s something you can teach; you have to show it by example.”