INA - Rend Lake College track and field Warrior Boaz Lalang has run many, many miles. The distance is immeasurable when thinking back on the training and competition that have made him the fastest mile runner in the world. However, the most important miles of his career lay ahead of him. In this challenge, they span an ocean which he will need the help of others to cross.
Lalang has been invited to compete at the Olympic trials in his native Kenya. The invitation means an opportunity to live a dream and the chance for him to reunite with his family after nearly a year of being apart.
Since moving to Ina last year, Lalang has overcome every hurdle set in front of him. He established a season record in the indoor 800m run and mile run, became a national champion in the 800, mile and distance medley relay, and set the current-season world best of all mile runners in the world.
All that is still not enough to get him to Kenya. All the talent in the world can’t pay for a plane ticket. He needs money. To be more accurate, he needs about $2,000 to cover airfare and other expenses. In comes Brandi Johnston.
RLC part-time instructor Johnston taught an English class and Lalang was her student. When she heard about his plight Johnston decided to launch a fundraiser with the help of Barb Hampton, a developmental reading and English instructor at the college.
“I don’t know how anyone who has had the chance to interact with the Kenyans could do anything but help,” Hampton said of Warrior student athletes from Kenya. “I’ve had most of the boys in class at one point or another and they are all gracious and respectful. Boaz was a great student and I’m always anxious to help students achieve their goals. Once you get to know one of these beautiful young people, it’s as if they are always part of you. I feel like their unofficial grandmother or something.”
Hampton added that she watched Lalang compete in Charleston during the indoor season.
“The strength and grace he has goes far beyond the field he runs with in the community college circuit,” she said. “I’m sure Boaz will have the opportunity to do tremendous things in the future, but this opportunity is here now and he feels he’s ready for it.”
Lalang said he will compete in the trials and return to RLC for his sophomore year regardless of qualifying for the Olympics or not. Should he qualify, Lalang would be able to compete in Beijing and return to the U.S. in time for the start of his sophomore year at RLC in the fall.
Those who wish to help Lalang with his travel expenses for the Olympic trials in Kenya can give a tax-deductible gift to the RLC Foundation, 468 N. Ken Gray Parkway in Ina, IL 62846. Please make checks payable to RLC Foundation and note that the donation is for the Boaz Lalang Travel Fund. For additional information, contact RLC Foundation Assistant Director Claire Creedmore at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1214 or RLC Foundatoin CEO Pat Kern at Ext. 1324.