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Kirkland student gets creative to help raise money for educating young women in Rwanda

Sophie Sharp, 16, is encouraging people around the globe to participate in a virtual "run to Rwanda" to raise money for the Rwanda Girls Initiative in Bellevue.

KIRKLAND, Wash. — A student in Kirkland is hoping people around the globe will join her to raise money to help fund education for young women in Rwanda. 

Sophie Sharp, 16, admitted her life mostly revolved around her favorite TV shows and what she was going to wear the next day until she visited Rwanda with her family when she was in eighth grade. 

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.

When Sharp returned home, she decided to use her passions for running and education to help the Rwanda Girls Initiative (RWI).

It's an organization she discovered in Bellevue that's 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 started a fun run in eighth grade to fundraise for the RWI and she raised $55,000. 

This year, the fun run is going virtual. 

"Our goal is to collectively run 8,862 miles from Bellevue to Rwanda (as the crow flies)," said Sharp.

People can sign up for the fun run here and also donate to the cause. Because it is virtual, Sharp hopes it will give more people the opportunity to get involved.

"People around the world the opportunity to participate and give it a global aspect, which is very exciting this year," Sharp said. 

The virtual fun run is from September 6-20. Learn more here.