SEPT 10, 2009 – Actor and longtime conservation activist Edward Norton will run the NY Marathon as part of a team raising awareness and financial support for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, a Kenya-based conservation organization. Norton and 3 Maasai warriors will be leading 30 people from all walks of life running the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 1.
The organization has launched a web-based fundraising effort (www.maasaimarathon.com) to bring together corporate sponsors and a grassroots network of donors sponsoring the team of runners. Norton helped create the U.S. non-profit partner of the organization and serves as President of the organization’s Board. It will be the first marathon for Norton and his Maasai teammates, most of whom have never traveled away from their community in southern Kenya.
The campaign will raise funds for the Trust’s programs in conservation, education and health care as part of its mission to promote conservation and sustainable economic development. The Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust works in partnership with the Maasai community to foster practices that benefit people and wildlife as well as the ecosystem that they both depend on. The legendary biodiversity of the East African grasslands ecosystem and the famous culture of the Maasai people are both threatened by competition between people and wildlife, water shortages, sub-division of land and urban migration. The urgency of these issues is currently exacerbated by a severe drought taking place in Kenya.
In initiating the marathon campaign, Norton and the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust are partnering with two major corporations committing both financial capacity and services critical to the effort. RMJM, an international architecture and design firm with special expertise in constructing healthcare facilities, and AECOM (NYSE: ACM), a global provider of professional technical and management support services with expertise in environmental planning and management, are the founding sponsors of the project and are fielding staff members on the Marathon team.
In addition to pledging funds and fielding the team, RMJM and AECOM have also come on board offering much-needed professional services to MWCT. Specifically RMJM is designing, planning and funding a state-of-the-art health clinic for the Maasai community, some of whom currently walk up to 60 miles for care. The health clinic will be designed by a team from RMJM’s Global Health and Science Studio in New York and will follow sustainable design principles. The acclaimed healthcare organization Partners in Health has provided strategic advice and expertise toward designing a community health strategy. AECOM is providing strategic organizational planning, conservation strategy, eco-tourism business and marketing guidance to advance the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust’s conservation and education efforts.
“I got involved with the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust about 8 years ago and I really believe in the work they do,” notes Norton. “Their approach to conservation is a model for the kind of partnerships we need to forge if we’re going to solve the puzzle of being human but living sustainably within our environment. We came up with the idea of raising funds by fielding a team of runners because the Maasai are born runners, runners as a matter of culture and heritage. I’ve never run a marathon before and the difficulty of it is both intimidating and motivating, especially when it’s for a cause like this, and having RMJM and AECOM on board on this initiative is incredibly exciting – like a turbo-booster on our efforts.”
RMJM’s CEO, Peter Morrison, who will himself run in the marathon, said: “As a global firm, we have a global responsibility to help those who need it most. Quality healthcare is a serious need for the Maasai people as very few cl…