> Igali reaps award, announces run

Igali reaps award, announces run

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Daniel Igali 604.787.1795; daniel.igali@gmail.com (in Vancouver May 25)
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.4323

May 25, 2009

Most of Daniel Igali’s time these days is spent in his native Nigeria, grappling with the day-to-day issues of running a school.

But the Olympic champion wrestler and Simon Fraser University graduate student returns home this week to receive a national courage award and begin a drive towards his foundation’s first annual fun-run in October.

The award is from the Future Aces Foundation, headed by the Herbert H. Carnegie Foundation, which presents a series of annual awards recognizing inspiring individuals in areas of achievement, courage, education and service.

The courage award is given to those who overcome obstacles, persevere in the face of adversity and advocate for social justice. Igali will receive the award at a ceremony in Toronto on May 27.

After winning gold at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games, Igali threw his efforts into building a school in his home village of Eniwari. He raised more than $600,000 and oversaw its construction and opening in 2006.

Persistent issues of funding, hiring and maintenance have kept the Surrey resident returning to African soil ever since.

Family and career – including his master’s thesis on the Niger Delta political struggle - have been on hold as he spends months at a time in Nigeria, often in meetings with politicians and education officials in a bid to secure funding and support for the school’s operations.

“The school has many needs, and being there makes it possible to deal with the issues,” he says. “It is going well, but we still don’t have the books, the computers, the basic school supplies that the classrooms require.”

Igali is hoping to raise awareness of the school and its needs through the first annual Daniel Igali Foundation Run 4 the Kids, a five-kilometer fun-run to be held at Surrey’s Bear Creek Park on Saturday Oct. 17.

The event will raise funds for the school’s equipment and material needs, but Igali also sees it as a chance to promote physical activity among community members of all ages. “We should all be inspired as we invite athletes from around the world into our backyard next year,” he says.

Igali is available this week (today in Vancouver, Tues-Thurs in Toronto) to talk about the school’s progress, his goals for the run, and even the pre-Olympic mind-set of athletes.

He returns to Nigeria on Thursday.



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