While serving in Iraq, I witnessed firsthand the devastation that war brings to a country. In 2003, I visited St. Hannah's Orphanage when a nun took me aside and requested that I and my fellow soldiers not return to the orphanage which we had supported in previous months. The insurgents threatened to kill all of the children if we ever visited the orphanage again. This and many other horrific moments inspired me to conceive a program that provides aid and assistance to Iraq's war kids. That's why I started War Kids Relief.
War Kids Relief helps the children of Iraq recover from the disruptive effects of war and gives them hope for a better future. War Kids Relief's Iraq Youth Center Work/Study Program, implemented by The Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sport, provides Iraqi youth with both jobs and education. This critical program is designed to keep the victims of war from becoming insurgents, and give hope to a community that has been devastated.
Right now we're ramping up for the Race for the War Kids in support of the Iraqi Youth Center Work/Study effort that is currently engaging Iraqi youth by providing both jobs and education. As part of our fundraising effort, War Kids Relief is sponsoring my cousin John Baldwin in the Ford Iron Man USA Triathalon on July 22nd, 2007, in Lake Placid, NY. Our local NBC affiliate, WGRZ, talked to me and John about War Kids Relief and Race for War Kids. You can watch the segment on our web site.
John is enrolled in the Janus Charity Challenge. Sponsored by Janus, this competition was designed to motivate Ironman athletes to use participation in any of the U.S. full distance Ironman races to increase awareness and raise money for charity. Janus makes additional contributions to the beneficiaries of the top fundraisers at each of the six U.S. Ironman races, up $10,000. Since its inception in 2001, nearly $9 million has been raised in support hundreds of charities throughout the United States. John Baldwin and War Kids Relief hope to be among the top fundraisers.
Our goal is to raise $1,000 for every mile of the rigorous 140 mile course to help raise funds for War Kids Relief's programs. Our success will mean $140,000 towards the first Iraq Youth Center in Baghdad, and a chance for a brighter future for Iraq's war kids. We've raised $40,000 towards our goal so far, and with your help, we hope to meet our goal. If you can help us out in our efforts to begin rebuilding the future for Iraq's war kids, please consider making a contribution to the project . Any amount is appreciated, and will go a long way towards ensuring a better future for Iraq's war kids.