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U.S. Olympic Star Lopez Lomong visits Houston

October 10, 2012

Former Sudan Lost Boy & US Olympian in Texas this weekend to support partnership between Lakewood Church and World Vision

All Part of Effort to Benefit Children in South Sudan

Lakewood Church – October 13, 2012

Promise Paks (flyer PDF)October 10, 2012 (Seattle, WA) – U.S. Olympian and former Lost Boy Lopez Lomong will be in Houston this weekend to help volunteers at Lakewood Church assemble World Vision Promise Packs in an effort to help children living in extreme poverty in South Sudan. Lomong and his charity 4South Sudan is partnering with international Christian charity World Vision.

On Saturday morning, Lomong will visit Lakewood Church and share part of his inspirational story.

At six, Lopez was kidnapped from his Sudan village and held captive as he was being prepped as a child soldier. Too small to undergo training, his fate would most likely have been starvation. But he escaped with the help of three other captives. After running three days and nights, they were captured by Kenyan troops and brought to a refugee camp where Lopez lived for 10 years. He was brought to this country by a US family and soon discovered how fast he was. In 2008, Lomong qualified for the Beijing Olympics in the men’s 1,500 meters. He was voted by his teammates as the flag bearer in the Opening Ceremonies. In August, Lomong competed in his second Summer Games in London, this time in the 5,000 meter where he finished tenth. Lomong says, “I learned a lot in that race. I’ll be back in four years, smarter and stronger. I’ll be back”

Lopez is confirmed to arrive in Houston Friday October 12th at 5pm, departing Sunday, October 14th at 6pm. The event on Saturday at Lakewood. Church is Saturday from 8am-12pm. World Vision Promise Packs empower orphans and at-risk children in Africa.

Saturday, October 13
8 a.m. – 12 p.m. (noon) – Promise Pack Event at Lakewood

Sunday, October 14
Attend Lakewood Church service (8:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. service times)

Contact info:
Dana Buck, Kits Team Director 425-241-1842
Joanna Kimes, Kits Team Event Specialist 206.251.2894

Lakewood Church:
3700 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77027


Former NHL star enters his first marathon to help kids in Africa

October 8, 2012

Former NHL star Jim Nill will run his very first marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Sunday to raise money for water projects in Africa. Inspired by his wife’s battle with cancer, Jim Nill is joining 1,600 runners from Team World Vision to help provide clean water to children living in extreme poverty in Kenya and South Sudan. Nill and as many as 275 fellow runners from his Detroit-area Northridge Church will run the 26.2 mile course.

Jim Nill played for the Detroit Red Wings from 1988 to 1991. His wife, Bekki was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in May, 2011. Bekki had hoped to run the marathon with her husband. She will instead drive with him to Chicago as moral, emotional and spiritual support.

Important Dates: Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Media outlets: Detroit, national hockey outlets (Hockey News, Sports Illustrated, USA Today)

Spokesperson: Jim Nill (available for interviews – en route Friday to Chicago – driving)

Presentation: link to WXYZ (Detroit) TV news story:

Local media (community paper) coverage:

Recommended Twitter posts:

Jim Nill, Former NHL star runs first marathon (Chicago) Sun to help kids in Africa, inspired by wife who’s battling cancer. @WorldVisionNews

Former Det Red Wings star Jim Nills enters first-ever marathon Sun in Chicago. Inspired by wife, Bekki, who’s battling @WorldVisionNews

Former NHL star Jim Nills & many other first-time marathoners to enter Chic Marathon Sun @WorldVisionNews

Extra Notes:

Bekki Nill was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in May of 2011. She already beat breast cancer 12 years ago.  This time the cancer is more severe and Bekki says she is comfortable not knowing what the next day holds. “I have that peace knowing that God is in control. I know I could die at any moment.” Bekki has always been a person to take on a challenge. So, one day during a chemo treatment she decided to run a marathon to help kids.  She signed up with an organization called World Vision. They build water-wells in countries like Africa to provide people with clean water for their villages. Upon hearing that Bekki was involved, her husband Jim signed up and they began to train and collect pledges for the October 7 run in Chicago.

However, about four months ago, Bekki’s chemo changed and running became unbearable. It ended her marathon training, but Jim kept running for Bekki and the kids.

Father and daughter join thousands Sunday for Chicago Marathon

October 3, 2012

Michael Mantel, Ph.D., of Sugar Land, Texas, is the CEO of Living Water International and a former executive with World Vision. On Sunday, Oct. 7, Mantel will be thinking about a different source of water: aid stations along the Bank of America Chicago Marathon route.

Mantel, and his daughter Maggie, a freshman at Northwestern University, are joining 1,600 Team World Vision runners in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon to raise money for water projects in Africa. Living Water and World Vision are combining efforts in nations like Zambia. To date Team World Vision has raised more than $1.6 million for clean water in Africa.

Important Dates: Sunday, October 7, 2012

Media outlets: Targeting select Christian media & Houston media (specifically KHOU-TV) in Houston

Spokesperson: Mike MantelLiving Water


Just-released You Tube video:

Chicago Marathon (official charity profile)

Recommended Twitter posts:

Father & daughter run Chicago Marathon on Sun, join Team World Visio. Goal: raise $ to help African kids get clean water @WorldVisionNews

Houston dad and his Chicago daughter join hundreds with Team World Vision trying to help African kids gain access to clean water @WorldVisionNews

For more information on Living Water or Team World Vision, or to speak with Michael or Maggie Mantel, please contact Wilks Communication at or 708-434-5006.

Extra Notes: Across Africa, people experience such scarcity of water that children – often young girls – are forced to miss school in order to carry water from distant, polluted streams. Global charities World Vision and Living Water International are actively engaged in efforts to provide clean water for these communities and have partnered to dig 50 fresh water wells in Zambia, where the need is great.

“Zambia is a beautiful country, but dirty water is taking its toll on the country’s children,” says Michael Mantel. “Almost half the population lacks access to clean water. Together, Living Water and World Vision are tackling this problem, one well at a time.” Living Water’s expertise with digging wells and training community members to provide maintenance and care to the new well is combined with World Vision’s expertise in health, education, and advocacy programs. Together, the two charities bring transformation to communities like that of Sachenga Village in Zambia. Mantel says he’s proud to run alongside the charity runners from Team World Vision, the largest charity team in the Chicago Marathon. In fact, Mantel led the group that created Team World Vision, during his tenure there. “Running for a cause makes it so much easier to get through tough training days,” he says.

What would you do with a year off work? How would you change the world?

September 27, 2012
Microsoft Vice-President Margo Day

Microsoft Vice-President Margo Day.

Microsoft VP Margo Day uses her sabbatical to empower 17,000 girls in rural Kenya to stay in school and avoid the all-too-common cultural practice of early marriage. She and her friends have raised more than $3 million in commitments toward a budget of $4.8 million. Day has contributed $150,000 out of her own pocket, and committed a half million more over the next three years.

Early and/or forced marriage and female genital mutilation are still widely practiced in rural Kenya. However, Seattle’s Margo Day is discovering that this is changing. The World Vision Kenya Child Protection and Education Program is focused on accelerating that change. Access to education is fundamental. Day took a year off of work as a high-powered tech VP to slow down and help girls living in extreme poverty in a remote region of rural Kenya.

Quote: “Listen to God because he’ll tell you when what you have is enough.”

Important Dates:  October 11 – International Day of the Girl

Media outlets: Seattle media, national and local tech writers, women’s publications

Spokesperson: Margo Day VP Microsoft

Margo Day’s blog

Multi-media content: Video being shot Wednesday, Sept 26

Recommended Twitter posts:

What would u do w 1 yr sabbatical? Microsoft VP helped Kenyan girls get education Intl Day of the Girl Oct 11 @WorldVisionNews

Microsoft VP takes year off work to help girls in rural Kenya. International Day of the Girl Oct 11 @WorldVisionNews

Extra Notes:

Here’s some of the tangible progress she’s made in the past year:

The first phase of the work was building St Elizabeth Secondary school for Girls. Already she says, there are 165 girls attending. 45 more are in the Morphus Primary School Rescue Center that will be able to attend St Elizabeth’s when they’re old enough. All school fees, she says are fully paid. These are girls who up until two years ago had no hope of secondary school or a better life.

Margo Day’s Tips: How to Make a Difference

1. Work with an experienced organization with sustainability at its core.

2. Concentrate your efforts on one thing

3. Show others what you’re doing. They want to have that same kind of impact that you have.

Kenya’s Sook Valley where Seattle’s Margo Day is working

Kenya’s Sook Valley where Seattle’s Margo Day is working.

 Sook (Kenya) Integrated Program Area: Education improvements 2009-2012:  Much has been accomplished to form a good foundation for the work now of the Kenya child Protection and Education program.  Here are some education statistics from 2009 to today:

  • 17.6% increase in child enrollment in school  (2012:  9,768 children:  5,107 Boys, 4,571 Girls)
  • Number of Early Childhood Development centers:  from 39 to 53*
  • Number of Primary Schools:  from 34 to 49*
  • Academic performance increase in primary schools:   9% increase (from a mean of 253 to 276)




In Redmond, Washington, Microsoft’s Margo Day and her friends have raised more than $3 million dollars in an effort to help girls living in rural Kenya.

Margo Day worked at Microsoft for ten years, taking a sabbatical in 2011 from her job as a Vice President (responsible for marketing and sales in the Western United States). She used the year to focus her passion and energy on raising funds and awareness for the Kenya Vulnerable Girls Education Project and Child Protection, partnering with World Vision.

The education project she devoted herself to will positively affect many hundreds of girls in in the Western Rift Valley of Kenya by building schools and deepening community advocacy for the education of the girl child. World Vision’s Child Protection initiative will protect over 50,000 children from exploitation as child laborers or in the sex trade.

Day has more than 27 years of experience in high technology software sales, marketing, business development and partner/channel management. During her tenure Day was recognized as the #7 channel executive in the industry and was a frequent keynote speaker at industry channel conferences.

Before joining Microsoft in 2001, Margo Day was Executive Vice President at SoftQuad Software, Ltd., and Vice President and Managing Director of Go2Net. She also spent seven years at Lotus Development Corporation in senior positions in the North American SMB Sales, Enterprise Sales, Field Marketing, and Business Partner Sales organizations. Making a difference in people’s lives is so important to me.

She is current co-chair of the World Vision National Leadership Council for Child Protection. I am partnering with World Vision to address issues related to girls’ education and child protection, recently completing construction of the St. Elizabeth’s Secondary School for Girls in West Pokot, Kenya. I have been honored for my work on behalf of women at Microsoft, earning its 2006 Most Inspirational Woman award. I live in the Seattle, WA area and love being outdoors. I enjoy backpacking, boating, cycling, scuba diving, skiing, golf, adventure travel and, when it’s rainy outside, attending concerts and theater in addition to enjoying a great glass of wine.

The New Face of American Poverty –The Other 47 percent?

September 21, 2012

“A new documentary to be released next month highlights our nation’s poverty. Hear from a Chicago woman about how World Vision helped her family overcome a culture of violence and hopelessness.”

Targeting:  Chicago and Washington, D.C. media

Sheila Howard

Sheila Howard (photo by Midgett Productions)

When Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney portrayed Democratic President Barack Obama’s supporters – as 47 percent of the electorate – who live off government handouts and do not “care for their lives,” Chicago’s Sheila Howard took it personally. “Poor people I know don’t feel entitled”, says 54-year old Sheila Howard from Chicago’s West Side. Howard says, “When poverty hits, you just find yourself in those circumstances. People forget that there but for the grace of God go I.”

Howard is one of those featured in the new Linda Midgett documentary, “The Line” about the “new face” of American poverty. The film premiers in Washington, D.C. October 2nd.

Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis says, “More and more of our friends are in poverty — in the pews, in our workplaces — through no fault of their own, and they are slipping below the poverty level.”

The film features a single dad from the Chicago suburbs laid off from his bank and now a regular at the local food pantry, trying to make it by with three kids. Howard’s in the doc because she lives on Chicago’s tough West Side where deep poverty creates a culture of violence and hopelessness. Howard works with World Vision as a community Development Specialist.

Howard ‘s son, JaVee was also in the documentary because of his involvement as a delegate in World Vision’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP). In 2011, JaVee, his sister, Veesha and Sheila joined more than 130 others across the nation as they traveled to Washington, D.C. , advocating for federal youth violence prevention funding.

Sheila talked about her experience with Linda Midgett and the documentary filming. “It was my journey living below the poverty line.  I took them back to my old neighborhood to the house I grew up, and showed them where my sister was killed in 1974.” Howard believes it was a robbery attempt though she says police never confirmed that.

“The point of the movie is that many people are living below the poverty line through no fault of their own.  We are not all lazy, feeling entitled … wanting to live off the government, Things just happened beyond our control that caused us to fall below the line,” says Howard.

Howard says the film gave her an opportunity to talk about her nonprofit, “Born To Be Light” and how she was inspired by (YEP).  Howard says, “It’s working. People are understanding the significance of being a light in their home and community. Words not only carry empowering energy, they carry hope for a better tomorrow.”

Howard is going back to school to get her undergraduate degree in communications from Chicago State University.

  • A 2011 YouTube video features Howard and JaVee, discuss how YEP changed their lives.

  • Linda Midgett (2005 Daytime Emmy Award winner, 2006, 2007 Daytime Emmy Award nominated)

Available for interview:

Sheila Howard – Community Development Specialist – World Vision

Corryne DeLiberto – Domestic Policy Advisor – World Vision

Media Contact: John Yeager Special Projects Director – Media Relations World Vision 425-765-9845

How Many Lattes Is Lazaro’s Life Worth?

September 19, 2012

Lazaro in Kenya.Recently, I got a chance to meet 6 year-old Lazaro, who lives with his five brothers and sisters on a hilltop on the edge of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley in Central Kenya. I don’t know much about him other than that he herds goats for his family, that he likes games with a ball and that he is very, very, very shy.

But behind his shyness there is wisdom and a sadness in his eyes that belies his age. What has he seen in those six years? How many nights did he go to bed without enough to eat? According to the latest UN statistics, more than 850 million people go to bed hungry each night. Has Lazaro been one of them?

What am I willing to give up to ensure he has access to the most basic of life’s needs: food security, basic nutrition, education and access to clean water?

Repurposed journalist John Yeager and his tall Starbucks latte.Is Lazaro’s life worth a tall latte?  My local Starbucks charges $3.24 (tax included) for 8 ounces of ground espresso and steamed milk. A tall latte is something most of us in Seattle take for granted. It’s a wonderful little luxury. Buy one a day it’ll run you $842.40 a year. Cut your habit down to just two a week and you’ll save more than enough to sponsor a child like Lazaro for one year. So that’s what I’ve decided to do.

Kari Costanza: Crying in My Cubicle

September 14, 2012

Kari Costanza’s Tips for the Re-purposed Journalist:

  1. It’s not about you. (You’re not there to be the best writer or to win a Pulitzer)
  2. Don’t do it if you don’t truly like people (People in need will open up only if they know you care).
  3. Be prepared for a joy and a pain that you could never imagine when you were studying to become a journalist in school.
Repurposed journalist Kari Costanza on assignment in Marich Pass IPA, Kenya

Repurposed journalist Kari Costanza on assignment in Marich Pass IPA, Kenya. Photo by Jon Warren / World Vision

After graduating from the University of Washington, Kari held a job as news producer at KIRO 7 TV and at several stations on the East Coast. As a producer, Costanza says, “I shaped and wrote much of the newscast. I worked with anchors, reporters, photographers and production staff to condense the news of the day into a 30 minute broadcast.”

Costanza met that daily deadline for 10 years. Then one day she remembers a KIRO 7 TV colleague walking by her newsroom desk and whispering, “You’re not happy. You need to make a change.”  The words haunted her because they rang true.

It was spring, 1995.

Then her mother cut out a news article in her hometown paper, the  Tacoma News Tribune, about how a Christian non-profit called World Vision was moving from Southern California to Federal Way. Her mother urged her to apply for a job. Kari interviewed in May. In June she was hired.

She has never looked back.

In the first five years after joining the World Vision video department, Kari produced 300 videos. She became Managing Editor of World Vision Magazine in 2000. In 2010, World Vision International asked her to be Global Editor. Today, Kari Costanza is Editor of Special Projects and Content Curation. In 17 years with World Vision, Kari Costanza has been to 40 countries.

Kari Costanza in Kenya with Ekomol

Kari Costanza in Kenya, with Ekomol. Photo by Jon Warren / World Vision.

“The hardest part is when you care about people and they die, ” says Costanza. “We did this story in Rwanda in August. We’d heard that 10 people had died in a refugee camp.”  As always, Costanza wanted to personalize the story. At a hospital near the camp, she met a woman named Solange who had lost a daughter since moving to the camp from the Congo. She and NPPA Photographer of the Year Lisa Berglund produced a video of Solange and her baby, Esther when they came back from Africa. “But then, after we left, we found out that Esther died. We mourned. I just went into my cubicle and cried,” says Costanza.

“That doesn’t happen in TV news.”

On Thursday, September 20th, at 1 p.m. (Pacific), Kari will join World Vision award-winning photographer Jon Warren for a presentation at Seattle Center as part of the Center’s “The Next Fifty” Celebration called “Approaching The Story.”

For the Solange story:

For the One to the World Digital Classroom: