Archive for October, 2011

Update from Sara Hall: “Chicago, Mexico, and Beyond”

STEPS co-founder Sara Hall competes Friday, October 28, in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico!  In the midst of final preparations for the race, she drafted this update for STEPS runners, volunteers, and supporters.


“It seems like forever since I wrote my last blog posting.  Perhaps it’s because life has been a complete whirlwind since then!  Here’s a recap of the past few months…

“From racing at least twice monthly during the Spring track season, Ryan & I headed over to Europe for three weeks of racing, which was followed by a return to altitude and a chance to regroup in time for some Fall races.  I thought this would be a chance to relax and catch my breath, but I ended up moving us out of our house in Mammoth Lakes, CA, and into a rental home in Redding, CA, where we’ll do our sea level training the rest of the year and into 2012.  In the midst of a few Fall road races on the East Coast, Ryan & I started a school of ministry at a church in Redding while getting settled and getting him ready for the Chicago Marathon.

“Chicago was truly a memorable weekend!  It’s always an exciting atmosphere at Ryan’s marathons, and it’s especially energizing when we have a team of STEPS runners.  We were blessed with a great group of individuals — some of whom are profiled on the STEPS website — including my mom, who ran her first marathon!  It was a new experience for me to have two family members running the marathon, and I have to say: I was more nervous for my mom than for Ryan!  She just started running two years ago and had run only two half marathons before deciding to take the plunge at age 56.

“When my mother first considered running a few months ago, Ryan & I assured her that she could do it — that anyone can do it.  I learned a lot in the months to come of what the marathon is like through the eyes of a beginner.  Ryan & I take for granted the little things we’ve learned over the years, but seeing the process through my mom’s eyes reminded me of just how daunting it can be for a first-time marathoner.

“I felt blessed to experience the thrill of that first victory with her as she walked (not even hobbling!) into our STEPS tent in Charity Village.  I was able to run a few miles with her after Mile 20 and was amazed at how she kept trucking along, passing people left and right.  It really hit me, too, when I saw her final time of 5+ hours.  I thought, “My mom, the person who never ran all those years while I was at home, just ran over twice as long (in time) as I’ve ever run!”  Needless to say, our family is so proud of her.

“I am equally proud of Ryan.  I had the good fortune of riding on the lead truck and watching almost his entire race, and I was able to pray for specific things as he ran.  Considering the warmth that day, I thought it was a very solid run.  Ryan’s consistency at the marathon — an event that, as Coach Vigil said, seems to be “like a rose with lots of thorns” — really amazes me.

(L to R) Ryan Hall, STEPS runner Craig Felker, Sara Hall, and Wesley Korir at the STEPS post-marathon dinner in Chicago

“Ryan was the most peaceful I’ve seen him in the weeks leading up to the race.  More than that, he seemed to be in the best place emotionally and spiritually than I’ve ever seen him.  To me, that means the most: I know that God has him right where he wants him to be.  It’s been so cool to see him experiencing God daily.

“We had an incredible time celebrating the Chicago Marathon with our amazing STEPS team — both in Charity Village immediately following the race and at our post-marathon dinner at Petterino’s.  One of the highlights for me was getting to hear Wesley Korir — second place at Chicago! — share stories from his young life in Kenya and tell us why he is so motivated to build the hospital that STEPS is helping to fund in his hometown.  He has a neat heart, and it’s been so fun getting to know him this year.

“Ryan recovered very well from the race, which was a huge priority with the Olympic Trials right around the corner.  He did a little speed work with me to loosen up his legs over the weekend, and he’s gotten in some altitude training this week in Guadalajara, Mexico.  Ryan & I are here for the 2011 Pan American Games, where I’ll be competing in the 3,000m steeplechase on Friday, October 28.  For those that aren’t familiar with it, the “Pan Ams” is basically the Olympics for North, Central, and South America.  It has a variety of events, from archery to swimming to track & field.

“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to practice championship-style steeplechasing!  I’ve done more hurdling practice this summer and feel like I’ve made some gains — I’m excited to see them translate to the race.  It’s the longest track season I’ve ever had, but it’s been a really good experience to figure out how to recycle my training to prolong the season — even when I am feeling tired in June and July.

“It’s wonderful to be here in Mexico.  I’ve always had a love affair with the country since my high school days — I would travel here with my youth group to serve every Spring Break.  It was my favorite week of the year, playing and building bonds with kids that lived in poverty.  I’d get very attached and not want to leave when the week came to an end!  Those trips constituted my first experience with poverty outside U.S. borders.  They were the groundwork for my eventual decision to dedicate my life to justice in developing countries and establish The Hall STEPS Foundation.

“I love Mexican culture and am excited to explore another part of this beautiful country!  I’ll be sure to write an update after my race (Friday, October 28).  Ryan & I head straight from Mexico to Washington, DC, for appearances at the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30, after which we’ll be in New York City to support a few STEPS runners in the marathon on November 6.  Also, I’ll be running my last race of the year — a 5k — in New York the day before the marathon.  Hope to see some of you there…  Hasta luego!”  — Sara

World Vision

World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and communities to overcome poverty and injustice.

From October 2009 through September 2010, World Vision responded to nearly 80 major disasters and humanitarian emergencies, assisting 15 million people.  In addition to addressing immediate and short-term needs, World Vision seeks to work with national governments, where appropriate, and families on long-term recovery plans.  World Vision believes that finding comprehensive and sustainable solutions will help to minimize the impact of future crises.

The current drought in the Horn of Africa is being reported as the worst in that region in more than 60 years.  An estimated 10 million people are affected in the easternmost area of Africa, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  Without rain, crops have failed, and the prices of food and fuel are rising beyond the reach of families already struggling to survive.  We fear that we have not yet seen the worst.

As millions of people in the Horn of Africa suffer from the impact, World Vision and The Hall STEPS Foundation are committed to helping them and showing them that they are not forgotten.  Thanks, in part, to a donation from STEPS, World Vision is able to more effectively respond to the dire needs of people in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

What is more, World Vision has a 5X multiplier on all charitable gifts toward the crisis in East Africa.  This means that the STEPS donation will be multiplied by five!

Follow World Vision on Twitter: @WorldVision

“Like” World Vision on Facebook




KickStart International

Founded by Martin Fisher and Nick Moon in 1991, KickStart is an award-winning social enterprise with a revolutionary solution to poverty in Africa and the developing world.  Our friends at KickStart are on a mission to get millions of people out of poverty quickly, cost effectively, and sustainably.

To do this, KickStart develops and promotes simple money-making tools and systems that unlock business opportunities for thousands of poor entrepreneurs.  With only four percent of Sub-Saharan farm land currently being irrigated, irrigation using KickStart’s line of human-powered ‘MoneyMaker’ pumps allows rural farmers to grow crops year-round, to grow higher value crops, and to produce crops in the dry seasons when water supplies are short and vegetable prices are high.

Thanks to the use of KickStart tools and systems, nearly 600,000 people are no longer living in poverty.  What’s more, farmers who purchase and use a MoneyMaker pump increase their family’s income substantially, usually within a year of purchase.  This increased income enables them to acquire the things they need to make a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities: plentiful food, clean water, medical care, and education for their children.  They are now able to plan for the future.

By combining the transformative power of technology, the entrepreneurial spirit of the world’s poorest people, and the permanence of the private sector marketplace, KickStart is changing the way the world fights poverty.

KickStart is currently active in Kenya, Tanzania, Mali, and Burkina Faso, and their pumps are distributed by other NGOs in more than 20 countries.  KickStart is also working on innovative new initiatives, including several financing and social networking pilot programs for rural farmers that are in the process of being tested in Kenya and Tanzania.

Follow KickStart on Twitter: @KickStart_Intl

“Like” KickStart on Facebook

STEPS Announces Grant Recipients for Fall 2011

The Hall STEPS Foundation is thrilled to announce that KickStart and World Vision are its two grant recipients for fall 2011!

Our mission this season is two-fold: to contribute to innovative efforts in Kenya that focus on social enterprise and long-term sustainability; and to provide immediate support to emergency relief work in the Horn of Africa, a region which is enduring its worst drought in 60 years. KickStart and World Vision are two wonderful, inspiring organizations committed to helping people in need, and STEPS is grateful for the opportunity to support their ongoing work.

KickStart develops and promotes simple money-making tools that unlock business opportunities for thousands of poor farmers. Thanks to the use of these tools, nearly 600,000 people are no longer living in poverty. By combining the transformative power of technology, the entrepreneurial spirit of the world’s poorest people, and the permanence of the private sector marketplace, KickStart is changing the way the world fights poverty. KickStart is active in Kenya, Tanzania, Mali, and Burkina Faso, and their pumps are distributed by other NGOs in more than 20 countries. Learn more at




World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Today, our friends at World Vision are responding to dire needs in the Horn of Africa by supporting interventions involving food aid, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, and livelihood protection. Ryan & Sara Hall have proudly supported the organization’s efforts ever since the couple traveled with World Vision in 2008 to Zambia, a country in Southern Africa. World Vision has a 5X multiplier on all charitable gifts toward the crisis in East Africa, which means that our STEPS grant will be multiplied by five!  Learn more about World Vision at

Also, as part of our “26.2 Challenge,” STEPS committed thousands of dollars earlier this year to help complete construction of a new hospital in Kenya’s Rift Valley in the home village of Wesley Korir, an elite runner and dear friend of STEPS.


We are also happy to announce progress is being made on the Rift Valley Hospital, a grant that was designated in 2010.  Those on the ground in Kenya sent us an email on 11/17/2011 with the following progress update and pictures:

1.      Public toilet is almost complete
2.      Blustering of the main block in and outside is complete
3.      Water tank has been bought and its stand completed.
4.      Wall electrification channel completed
5.      Water piping system is going on, materials bought.
6.      Ceiling frames complete
7.      Those doing mason work have been paid depending on what level they
have done the required work.



To see other past grants click here!

Who is the Greatest Runner of All-time?

This morning, while enjoying my breakfast, I was reading Luke and came across the passage telling the story of the disciples of Jesus getting in an argument about which one of them is the greatest. In response to their argument Jesus brings a child before them and tells them that the one who is least among them is great.