Archive for July, 2012

A Beautiful and Amazing Child

Marah Williams – Ethiopia – March, 2012

Her mother says 19 year-old Marah Williams took care of others in many ways unknown to most of us until her death on June 12, 2012. Marah’s mom is Penny LeGate, a former Seattle TV (KIRO 7) anchorwoman and (KING 5) Evening Magazine co-host. Penny says, “Marah was an extremely intuitive, loving person who shouldered everyone else’s burdens.” LeGate says, “They became part of Marah’s internal fabric, leaving her little energy for her own troubles.”

A few weeks after this March, 2012 photo was taken in Ethiopia, Penny lost her daughter who had battled chemical dependency and depression for years. Marah had accompanied her mom on a trip exploring Ethiopia’s remote Omo Valley. LeGate says, “It’s home to many colorful, indigenous tribes that are rapidly disappearing due to development. Marah’s striking blonde hair, tattoos, and gentle heart guaranteed a cloud of villagers gathered around her, especially the children.”  Mom and daughter had traveled together to other countries such as Vietnam and Nicaragua in years past.  Ethiopia would be the last trip the two would make together.

Penny says one of Marah’s lifelines was Northgate Middle College, an alternative high school which is part of the Seattle Public School system’s safety net program. LeGate says, “These struggling teens who don’t fit into a typical high school environment get individual guidance there so they can get the credits necessary to finish high school.”

Marah (left) her mom (right)

Marah Williams – Ethiopia – March, 2012

In order to support other teens like Marah, Penny, Marah’s father Mike Williams, and sister Molly, want to direct memorial funds into a special account called The Marah Project. It’ll award paid internships to youth selected from the Middle College Program in Seattle. The fund will be managed by Teens in Public Service, an organization with a proven track record of 15 years.  Teens in Public Service provides paid internships to youth in community service jobs.  LeGate says, “The Marah Project will give underserved teens a life-changing opportunity to succeed and also provide support as these often forgotten kids work to achieve their life goals.”

It will also be the way one mom keeps her daughter’s legacy alive.

This link goes directly to The Marah Project:


Mary Pilon – New York Times

“We don’t like being the story.”

Mary Pilon was emphatic.  But it was a simple request from a humble reporter. Reporters like to tell stories not be stories. No problem. Ok, so this won’t be a post about Mary Pilon. It will however, be an example of how a journalist can re-purpose considerable talent.

Oregon native Mary Pilon has written about everything from the Wall Street to board games to track and field. In December, the New York Times hired her away from the Wall Street Journal. She would now be a sports reporter. At WSJ she’d been reporting on the financial crisis on Wall Street. I got a chance to meet Pilon last week in New York City when I was pitching her on Lopez Lomong, the former Sudanese Lost Boy and U.S. Olympic track star. I told her Lopez was a remarkable young man using the flame of his Olympic story to help the kids back home in South Sudan gain access to the basics like clean water, education and food. I’ve been telling as many people as I can about Lomong because he’s partnering with World Vision, the charity I work for.

Pilon knows the Lomong story.  You have to look hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of the Sudanese Lost Boy kidnapped from his village at the age of six, held captive by Sudanese rebels intent upon turning him into a child soldier. The six-year old was deemed too young and left to starve. But thanks to the help of three other boys (to this day Lopez considers them his “angels”) Lopez escaped the detention center. The boys ran three days and nights until they were captured by Kenyan soldiers and brought to the safety of a refugee camp. After ten years, Lopez was sponsored by an American couple and brought to the States. Soon he discovered he was the fastest kid in high school, then the fastest in the state, then one of the fastest in the nation. In 2008, he qualified for the mens 1,500 meter in the Beijing Summer Olympics. His teammates elected him the U.S. National Team flag bearer.

As you’re guessing by now, the story from here on out is about Lopez Lomong.

Here’s what Mary Pilon wrote about Lopez. It was a Q and A.

Lopez Lomong, left, and Galen Rupp running in the finals of the 5,000 meters at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., last month.

Eric Gay/Associated PressLopez Lomong, left, and Galen Rupp running in the finals of the 5,000 meters at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., last month.

Lopez is running in the mens 5,000 meter qualifying heat on Wednesday, August 8th in London. He has his sights set on a gold medal but what makes Lomong unique is that fact that he wants to partner with Team World Vision to help the kids back home in South Sudan.

Or maybe it’s the new book he’s written, “Running for My Life” (Thomas Nelson Publisher).

One last thing: In December, Mary Pilon was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 for media. She is 26. Currently she is writing a book about the hidden history of the board game Monopoly.