2015 Summer Solstice Run in Leelanau County

MyNorth News Service

(Press Release provided by On The Ground)

TRAVERSE CITY: Area runners are invited to join the 2015 Solstice Run, an ultra-run through the night of Summer Solstice (June 19), to help raise awareness and funds for women’s empowerment and development programs in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Run begins at sunset from the northernmost point of Leelanau County and continues south through the night to the beaches of West Grand Traverse Bay. Runners can choose between 40 miles, 20 miles, a four-person relay (10 miles per runner), or the last 10 miles of the run. Participants are asked to solicit pledges in support of Project Congo using the same model of solidarity as the 2014 Summer and Winter Solstice Runs, which collectively raised nearly $45,000.

Funds raised will support the ongoing efforts of Project Congo and directly support women’s programs in Eastern DRC. This is the newest focus area for On The Ground, a Traverse City-based non-profit. “Runners will be helping OTG support community-based women’s groups to run their own micro-enterprises in an aim toward increasing gender empowerment and equality in one of the most challenged regions of the world,” says Chris Treter, Founder of On The Ground. According to the American Journal of Public Health, “Violence against women, often used as a systemic tactic of war to destabilize populations and destroy community and family bonds, has become more common and increasingly brutal in recent years in the DRC.” The same report estimates that about 35% of women in the DRC have experienced some form of sexual violence, with 450,000 women raped annually (about one rape every minute of every day). In some areas of Eastern Congo, two out of three women have been victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. Since 1998, violent conflict, disease and poverty in the DRC have killed over five million men, women, and children—more than any war since World War II.

“Six years ago, I had an idea that it would be exciting to run all night on the Summer Solstice,” says run founder Hans Voss. “Three of us did and it was an amazing adventure. Each year since we’ve attracted more people. Now, I am convinced that our Solstice Run is going to be a big-time event – and that it will trigger others all around the world. And, now it’s even better because we are running for a really good cause.” The Solstice Run ends with a jump in the Bay at sunrise in Traverse City. This is all about fun, adventure, and camaraderie – it’s not a race! The annual run has occurred during both summer and winter solstices, averaging 40 miles during the shortest days and nights of the year with a group of running friends, many of whom were participants of On The Ground’s Run Across Ethiopia (2011) and Run Across Palestine (2012) and will participate in the upcoming Run Across Congo (2015). For some this will be their first Solstice Run; for others it may be their sixth. “What started out as a just-for-the-fun-of-it adventure between four running friends has turned into an event in which anyone can participate,” shares Norm Plumstead, On The Ground’s Board Chairman. “A running adventure for a great cause–I can’t think of a better reason to run. Each time it’s been an amazing experience.”

For more information or to sign up to participate in the 2015 Solstice Run, visit: www.summersolsticerun.org

About On The Ground: On The Ground’s purpose is to support sustainable community development in farming regions across the world. We accomplish this mission by partnering with other philanthropic agencies, donors, and communities to provide opportunities for indigenous farming communities around the globe to build lasting infrastructure. In concert with sustainable trading practices by OTG partners, this infrastructure makes it possible for these communities to create real and meaningful prosperity for all their citizens. Learn more about us and donate at www.onthegroundglobal.org.

For more information, contact:

Nick Beadleston, On The Ground Communications, [email protected]

Randi Stoltz, On The Ground, 231-668-1010, [email protected]