Bristol walk-a-thon to raise funds for Haiti

BRISTOL — Karen Wheeler of Bristol and Patrice Wassmann of Lincoln will host a walk-a-thon in Bristol this Saturday, July 13, as part of their ongoing efforts to raise money for a Haitian orphanage.
Like the rest of Haiti, L’Orphelinat Notre-Dame de Perpetuel Secours, which is an institution eight miles north of Port-au-Prince that currently home to 26 children, has struggled to recover from a devastating earthquake that struck the country in 2010.
Wassmann and Wheeler are members of United Church of Lincoln, which has sponsored the orphanage since 2011. In fact, the two are known at UCOL as the “Orphanage Angels.”
Slowly but surely they’re checking off wish list and to-do-list items.
After delivering goods and gifts to the orphanage, and spending a week there in April 2018, they came home and raised $15,000 that summer, which went to building a roof on the children’s dormitory.
Now they’re hoping to help fund further work, such as putting stucco on the walls, installing windows, finishing floors and purchasing beds so that the children will no longer have to sleep on concrete floors.
Modest future projects will include plumbing, electricity, septic, solar panels and a minivan to replace Notre-Dame’s aging vehicle.
More ambitious projects include building a roof on the orphanage’s second building, which serves as a school, adding a second story to both buildings and purchasing land for a garden and playground.
In the meantime, there are monthly needs for food, clothing and teachers’ salaries.
Saturday’s walk-a-thon event is suitable for all ages, including those who ride in strollers.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. on the Bristol Green, and walking gets under way at 9:30. The two-mile route wends its way via sidewalks through Bristol village.
For further information, or to register early and obtain a sponsorship form, email Karen Wheeler at [email protected].
Saturday’s event is one of a number of fundraisers Wassmann and Wheeler have organized this year.
In April they hosted a Cabin Fever Ladies’ Day Out at the American Legion in Bristol ($400 raised). The following month they returned to the American Legion (twice!) for Paint-n-Sip events ($1,0000 raised).
For those who cannot attend Saturday’s event there are a number of other ways to help out:
•Bring your returnable bottles and cans to Bristol Beverage Redemption Center and tell them you’re donating your refund to the Haiti orphanage, or contact Karen Wheeler at [email protected] to request a pickup (so far they’ve raised almost $5,000).
•Donate $35 or more and receive a handmade Verde Mountain wooden cross necklace on a black silk cord ($200 raised).
•Donate $75 or more and receive the gift of a large, durable sailcloth tote bag made from local used sails (so far have raised around $1,000).
Tax-deductible donations can be made by check to United Church of Lincoln.
Another option for helping Notre-Dame, sadly, was born out of a recent tragedy.
New Jersey native Matt Vecere, an ally of Notre-Dame, as well as a surfer and social justice activist, was one of eight Americans killed onboard Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, which crashed on March 10 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Vecere had flown to Africa to attend a U.N. conference on the environment.
In his memory, his friends and family have resurrected a GoFundMe campaign that he helped create for Sustainable Orphanages for Haitian Youth in 2015, which had fallen short of its $40,000 goal.
“The goal is still very real,” organizers wrote this year. “We weren’t able (the first time) to raise all the funds that were needed, so construction stopped. Now, with donations coming in, we can finish what we started.”
In the last few months, Wheeler said, they’ve raised more than $30,000.
Supporters looking to help put them over the top will find information about how to do so by visiting
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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