Gladys Chemaiyo – McNeese State University

The dream of being a runner has motivated Gladys Jemaiyo since she was a young girl. As a graduate of KKFC’s Transcend Running Academy and current Louisiana State University student, it is running that has carried her from the tiny village of Katanin in the Cherangany region of Kenya to her current life in the United States.

Despite endless challenges, Gladys says that the dream to run remained top of mind.  As the sixth child in a family of seven children, her parents prioritized education as they worked to earn a living on their three-acre farm. However, when Gladys was in grade one, her father passed away and her single mother could no longer afford school fees. It was at this time that an older brother ended his own education by returning home to work on the farm, giving his siblings a brighter future. Gladys left school in 2009 and stayed at home for three years before presenting herself to a local school principal and asking for another chance to continue her studies. The principal not only offered to waive her school fees but also told her about Wesley Korir and a scholarship program offered by Kenyan Kids Foundation Canada. The program allows students from families who cannot afford to pay school education fees to attend the Transcend Running Academy.

Gladys (photo far right) earned her scholarship by placing in the top 10 women in a race sponsored by KKFC.  As she describes, “I tried my best, I was so thankful.”

She frequently thanks God for the opportunities that she received as her life continued.  At her new boarding school, she benefited from a training program to develop her running talent and an improved diet. She worked very hard to pass the SAT tests to qualify for a U.S. college and was accepted into South Plains College in Texas. Upon landing in the United States, she expected to see a flat paved landscape and was surprised to see many trees and animals. After three years in the USA she misses her family, friends, and traditional food, although she has developed a fondness for cookies and cakes in Louisiana.

After gaining national honors for her fourth place half-marathon and third place 5K results last year, she now dreams about a future as a nurse, spending time in both Kenya and the USA. Helping others and giving back to her communities remains a priority in her future plan. And of course, running will always be a key part of her success. (Thanks to KKFC volunteer Colleen Laing for writing Gladys’s story)

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