Mead student raising money for Ethiopian relief trip



Posted on May 31, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 2 at 2:39 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--A stand-out athlete from Mead High School is getting ready to head back to his roots to help others halfway around the world.

Andrew Gardner has made headlines ever since he started running track. He recently won State titles for the 1,600 and 3,200 meter run.

Friday, Andrew began packing for a trip to Africa to help strangers. Andrew, four teens, and four adults are delivery 30 tubs of supplies to Ethiopian villagers this summer.  Andrew told KREM 2 News that his Ethiopian heritage and the desire to help others fueled the trip.

“I always wanted to go back there and work with the villagers in some way and give back,” said Andrew. 

The Mead High School runner will visit the village he grew up in before coming to the United States.

Andrew and his baby sister lived in an orphanage until she died from a parasite infection. Andrew was later adopted at nine-years-old by Michelle and Steve Gardner in North Spokane.
“He looked scared and he was holding his baby sister so tightly,” said Michelle. “He wouldn't even sleep in the room with the other boys. He slept under her crib and I just thought, ‘I want to be his mom.’”

Michelle said it is that same giving spirit that has Andrew and his adopted brother, Nathanael, wanting to reconnect with long lost relatives. For Nathanael, it is an older sister he has not seen in more than seven years.

“They went to live with an uncle and they kind of ended up being the family slaves,” said Michelle. “It wasn't a good life and now Nathanael thinks about her a lot.”

“I’m just looking forward to finding my sister and seeing if she's still alive,” said Nathanael.

The group will travel in June to Africa together. Andrew and his brother said they plan to hand out clothes and supplies. The group will even host a track and field day for the village children.

“If someone had done that when I was a little kid, I would have been so grateful,” said Andrew.

The group plans to host a fundraiser on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. A 5k race at Mead High School will help raise money for the trip. The money donated will pay for additional supplies to be given to the villagers.