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Overlake senior raises over $85,000 to support education for girls in Rwanda

And you can help: Sophie Sharp is holding a 5K Fun Run on May 1 benefitting the Rwanda Girls Initiative.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Sophie Sharp isn’t your average high school senior. She's raised more than $85,000 to support young women in Rwanda. 

Although the country is more than 8,000 miles away, Sharp is driven to help fund a change through the Rwanda Girls Initiative. She discovered the organization through a family trip to Rwanda in 2017. 

The Bellevue-based organization is dedicated to providing a world-class secondary education for girls in Rwanda and empowering them in a boarding school environment. It was founded in 2008 by Shalisan Foster and Suzanne Sinegal McGill, with the vision of providing education to whom it is not easily accessible. 

In 2009, they opened the Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology. 

Sharp was struck by the many challenges facing girls her age in Africa including access to education and early marriage. In Rwanda, only 16% of girls are able to complete secondary school. 

“It’s really sad because only 2% of those girls go on to college whereas 94% from Gashora Academy go on to college,” she said. 

Sharp said she is compelled to support the school mission and is leaning on her passion for running to fundraise. 

“I run track for Bellevue High School and Cross Country for Overlake in Redmond so I love running and it’s a great way to get people out of the house to support a local organization that’s changing lives across the world,” said Sharp. 

She champions the Rwanda Girls Initiative logo and slogan: “Educate a girl. Inspire a Community. Transform a Nation!” 

This year marks the fourth annual “RGI 5k Fun Run” that Sharp has organized. She's very excited to be back in person after a virtual run last year. 

“We still raised $30,000 in a virtual format so I’m very happy about that and this year we are getting to be together again in person so we are aiming to push our total over $120,000," she said.

Sharp said the event has a family feel and there will be food, music, and fun for the “mostly flat route because it stretches across some of the 520 floating bridge and back.”

The 2022 RGI 5k Fun Run is Sunday, May 1. Registration is available for walkers and runners.

Sign up here. 

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