by Lea Shores
This weekend, runners from across the country will descend upon Manitou Springs for the 55th annual Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent.
The Ascent up the peak is 13.32 miles, gains 7,815 feet in elevation and is known as part of "America's Ultimate Challenge." But for Jamie Berry, this year's race is more than just a test of physical endurance.
This Saturday, Berry will run the Ascent to raise funds to adopt two children.
As we reported in February, Berry and his wife Misty have been blogging about their journey to adopt two children from Ethiopia, the world's second-poorest country. The cost of the adoption for two children totals around $30,000.
Why Ethiopia? Here are a few statistics about the country, taken from their blog.
• One in six children die before their fifth birthday
• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
• 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
• The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years
• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
• 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia (this number varies, some say there is as many as 6 million orphans).
• Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
• In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)
• Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)
• Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
• Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002.
• Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.
• In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.
For more information about the couple and their journey, click here. And remember, the Berrys also have a website here, at which they're selling a variety of coffee. Five dollars from every bag sold goes to support their fundraising efforts.