Laps for Liberia: A Labor of Love

HIgh School Students holsd signs and t-shirtsBy Rick Wolcott*

Students helping students. That was the idea behind Laps for Liberia.

The swim team at Bay High School, in Bay Village, held a swim-a-thon to raise money to repair the roof at the J.F. Yancy School. The school, part of the East Ohio Conference-supported Camphor Mission Station in Liberia, has more than 300 students – many of whom walk a couple of miles each morning to reach their classroom.

Girls hold up Laps For Liberia Signs“It was such an amazing feeling, knowing I was making a difference in the lives of those who need it,” said sophomore Logan Thompson.

Deborah Garner, a member of the swim team, and her mother, the Rev. Sharon Seyfarth-Garner, will spend Easter at Camphor Mission Station with a team from East Ohio.

“The Laps for Liberia swim-a-thon was a way to share this experience with my swim team family. It has been great for us to help students our same age half a world away,” Garner said.

She and her teammates took to their home pool at the North Olmsted Recreation Center and swam 3,376 laps – just shy of 47 miles! Their efforts raised $3,250.14.

“I have always been really interested in Africa and being able to help out by doing something I love made it that much more special,” said Jackie Melaragno. “It truly amazes me how much a few people can do if we just open our hearts and give a little bit of our time.”

“I am so very inspired by the generosity and enthusiasm of the Bay High School Swim Team and their desire to make a difference in the world,” Seyfarth-Garner said.

Camphor Mission

“Laps for Liberia helped my kids connect something they do every day (swimming) with a need in the world – education in Liberia,” said Jessica MacMillan, mother of Kyle and Colin.  “They realize the difference between putting so much effort into something that is in essence a privilege, like playing sports in the United States, and putting effort into just getting to school or having a roof over your head, as is the situation for some children in Liberia.”

“While I was swimming, I would begin to get tired and think about slowing down, but then I’d remember the kids in Liberia, and how happy they’ll be to have a roof over their head,” Thompson said. “That’s what kept me motivated.”

Bay High School Athletic/Activities Director Matt Spellman congratulated the swim team, the coaches and the parents for their involvement in this project. He said, “We are very willing to step up and help others.”

If you would like to make a financial contribution to repair the school roof, please send a check – made payable to Camphor Roof Repair Fund #9936 – to East Ohio Conference, P.O. Box 76019, Cleveland, OH 44101-4755.

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.