Students raise money to help Uganda orphanage's goal for higher education

Between 14 swimmers, a total of 719 laps were swum on Sat., May 5 during the Swim for Africa event at the New College pool. The money raised during the event will go toward KUMI Friends, an organization that helps Ugandan orphans achieve higher education.

Third-year Stephanie Larumbe put the event together, inspired by the multiple-sclerosis swim-a-thon that took place last year. Larumbe called KUMI Friends “amazing” after having volunteered with them in Uganda last summer, and said that without such a helpful organization, many Ugandan orphans in the area would not have a good chance at higher education endeavors.

Among the participants at the event was swim team member and third-year Janardana Hayton, who at the time of his interview had swum 35 laps in a mere 50 minutes. When asked what brought him to the event, Hayton enthusiastically replied, “Stephanie Larumbe!” He then continued, “Anything Stephanie Larumbe believes in, I believe in.”

Another swimmer was fourth-year Laurel Corrao, also a member of the swim team, whose initial goal was 50 laps until she realized she was funded to 100. At the time of the interview, she had swum just over 30 laps. Corrao said that she was “interested in helping out,” especially since she knows other volunteers besides Larumbe who have gone to Uganda to volunteer.

Each swimmer at the event had a sponsor through friends or faculty and family members. Sponsors would donate 10, 25 or 50 cents per lap. One swimmer’s parent sponsored even more at one dollar per lap. When swimmers had reached their individual goals, they would have their picture taken while holding a sign with their number of laps written on it. “We send [the sponsors] pictures as a thank you,” Larumbe explained. “It’s a little more personal, I think, to get a picture of the swimmer.”

Not everyone in attendance on Saturday was a swimmer. There were several “lap counters” who sat on the edge of the pool and kept tallies of how many laps the swimmers had completed. Some students showed up simply to support the cause, such as first-year Hugo Van der Merwe, who said he “trusts Stephanie’s choice in fundraising.”

Burgers (both veggie and otherwise) and ears of corn were grilled and served for free, as well as chilled refreshments.

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