18/11/2015 8:50 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Idaho Man Runs Ultra Marathon For Nepal Earthquake Survivors

Terry O'Connor


Damaged temple supported by wooden beams in Patan Durbar Square, Kathmandu. Photo: Amrit Sharma

Almost seven months have passed since the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on 25 April. It claimed 9,000 lives, flattened hundreds of villages, displaced millions, and left the Himalayan country in shambles. While the earthquake victims still work to rebuild their homes, villages and livelihoods, it's heart-warming to hear stories of people around the world dedicating themselves to raising money and awareness for the long road ahead for Nepal.

Terry O'Connor, an emergency services doctor for Blaine County in Idaho, is an avid long-distance runner and a climber with a passion for Nepal. O'Connor completed the 4th Annual Idaho Mountain Trail Ultra Marathon (IMTUF 100) in September, and dedicated this gruelling 100 mile (160km) race to the rebuilding efforts in villages across Nepal.

O'Connor is bringing attention to Nepal by supporting the rebuilding efforts by award-winning humanitarian Dr Fahim Rahim of the JRM Foundation. O'Connor, 40, summarises his goals, "After the news cycle fades and the camera lens turns away, it is critical that we ensure our objectives are still being met and we are ensuring the impact is consistent and compatible with the locals' wishes."

The JRM Foundation team, led by Dr Rahim is rebuilding 50 homes in Yangri village of Sindhupalchowk District. So far, nine homes have been successfully built. The project in Yangri village is called Project Bijay, dedicated after a 10-year-old boy who lost his life when the rocks that his house was made of fell on top of him.

O'Connor lives in Ketchum, a small Idaho town with a population of fewer than 3000, tucked away in northwestern USA. Few have heard of the town outside Idaho (although Ernest Hemingway fans know it as the location of his last home).

O'Connor and the Idaho community have shown that Ketchum may be a small town, but it has a big heart.

O'Connor has visited Nepal five times, including four climbing expeditions. In 1999, he climbed with a team from National Geographic, and in 2006, he was the expedition doctor for a Discovery Channel mini-series called "Everest Beyond The Limit".

After O'Connor summited Mount Everest in 2006, the New York Times interviewed him and others about their expedition on Everest.


Terry O'Connor on the summit of Mount Everest in 2006. Photo: Terry O'Connor

Dr Rahim says, "Many parts of the world have sadly forgotten about the Nepal earthquake and the aftermath. Even sadder is the fact that things on the ground have not changed much. But again there are people like my good friend Terry who are striving hard and giving it everything, to move the mountains and they truly are my heroes."

"Nepal has played a formative role in my life. The warm welcoming people have left an indelible mark in my memory. My acts are merely an expression of gratitude for so many magic moments spent there. Nepal has given to me, and I am happy to give in return."

You can support Dr. O'Connor's fundraising efforts at the CrowdRise crowdfunding website.

This article was first published on Amrit Sharma's blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @amrit_sharma.

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