Mead students return from Ethiopian relief trip



Posted on June 25, 2013 at 2:39 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 25 at 6:36 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--A stand-out athlete from Mead High School and his friends returned home from Africa this week. They traveled halfway around the world to give back to others.

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.

In late May, Gardner began packing for a trip to Africa to help strangers. Gardner, four teens, and four adults delivered more than 30 tubs of supplies to Ethiopian villagers. 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 Gardner.

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

Gardner and his baby sister lived in an orphanage until she died from a parasite infection. He was later adopted at nine-years-old and moved to North Spokane. Yet, Gardner managed to visit his family in Africa soon arriving on the relief trip. 

“I was really worried hoping to reconnect with family members there,” said Gardner.
Gardner managed to find his older sister who cared for him before he ended up in an orphanage. Gardner’s adopted brother, Nathanael, also reconnected with his family.

“It was amazing. I was in tears with excitement seeing that she's alive,” said Nathanael Gardner who tracked down his sister in Africa.

The Gardner brothers delivered clothes and soccer balls to local villages. Donations from across Spokane helped the teenagers buy 31 donkeys for families in need.

Andrew Gardner starts school at the University of Washington in the fall on a track scholarship. The teenagers hope to return to Africa for another relief trip after college.