It’s that time of year again when everybody’s making resolutions – mostly concerning their weight. But this year you can do the typical loose-the-extra-pounds thing while also helping to change a child’s life.
Montclair resident and adoptive mother Jessica Chu is running The NJ Marathon Festival at the Shore this spring to raise money for an organization that helps orphaned and impoverished children in China and rural Tibet. But Chu is more than just a racer she is a volunteer with the organization, Love Without Boundaries (LWB), and she is organizing a team of resolution-making, Barista readers – and anyone else for that matter – to join her on May 1st down the shore in beautiful Long Branch, NJ to participate in one of three marathon events. Hard-core Baristavillians can do the full 26-mile marathon, and regular people can run either the 13-mile half marathon or the half marathon relay, which splits two 6-mile legs between a two-person team.
“The marathon is a great way to get in shape,” Chu said, “especially after making those New Years resolutions.” And she pointed out the half marathon is perfect for people who aren’t runners. “It’s an attainable goal for a non-runner.”
The race is also a great way to help a child in need.
Chu got involved with LWB after adopting her son (pictured above) from Shaanxi Province in China three years ago this month. Chu was impressed with the programs, the efficiency and the dedication of the charity. LWB hold’s the highest 4 star rating by Charity Navigator and has an administrative overhead of less than 10%. This is due to its mostly voluntary staff.
“So people can feel safe that the money they raise is going directly to the children,” Chu said.
In this case, all the money raised in the race will go to the education program, which works with 350 orphans in pre-school through college, providing them with school supplies and tuition. Chu noted this money is much needed as it provides an education to children who may not have the opportunity otherwise.
Education, though, is only one of the many programs the organization offers. LWB also provides medical care, nutrition programs, foster homes and healing homes for children who need surgery or for those born with medical conditions that cannot be addressed in an institutional setting. One such condition is cleft palate, which often leads to failure to thrive among babies because they cannot feed properly.
The medical needs of orphaned children was originally what the organization was founded on. Actually, the medical needs of one orphaned child.
While in China to adopt her child, the soon-to-be-founder met a boy who needed heart surgery. She organized a group of other adoptive parents and provided the funds needed for the operation. She saved the boy’s life. And LWB was born.
“The woman who started it is pretty amazing,” Chu emphasized. Today anyone can sponsor a child’s surgery, education or stay at a healing home though LWB. Chu has sponsored two so far herself.
And, now, six months after giving birth to her daughter, Chu is looking to lose a little baby weight and raise money for children’s education in her son’s homeland. She admits she’s not a runner herself but said the course is nice and flat with part of it running on the boardwalk and along the beach. Chu emphasized if people join her team, they will get reduced admission and a guarantee to run in the race, which gets booked up and caps the number of runners. Participants on Team LWB need to raise $300 to run the half marathon and $600 for the full marathon, but arranging payment from pledges is super easy. Everything is done online.
If you want to run the relay but are without a partner, don’t worry. LWB with match you with one. So get on that resolution. The deadline for the race is April 15. You can register for the team here.
Oh, and while Chu hasn’t been back to China since she adopted her son, she’s planning to go back. She’s already filled out paperwork for a second adoption. In fact, she did it while she was pregnant with her second child.
“We knew we wanted to adopt again,” she said. “I love the country. I love the food. And I love the people.”
(Photo: Jessica Chu)