Run for a Cause: Join THIS Runner to Help the Navajo Nation

Want to make your miles really count this month? Run for a cause.

⭐You can join Rising Star, Timberlin Henderson and myself to run for a meaningful cause throughout the month of June!

🏃‍♀️Take the opportunity to join the virtual race for Fundamental Needs, a nonprofit based out of the Four Corners area (where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona converge.

Fundamental Needs serves communities—particularly that of the Navajo Nation—by providing the necessary resources to improve access to: 

  • Clean drinking water
  • Sanitation
  • Hygiene
  • Education
  • Electricity, and... 
  • Proper food sources

👉Join the Four Corners Virtual Challenge here...

You can join the Four Corners Virtual Challenge (June 1-30) to help the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Nation needs your help

In the United States, The Navajo Nation spans 16 million acres across Northeast Arizona, Northwest New Mexico, and Southern Utah.

This swath of land is the size of West Virginia and is home to over 400,000 people...

👉One-third of which do not have access to clean, running water.👈

Resource scarcity on the Navajo reservation isn’t limited to water:

Justice Ramos is the executive director of Fundamental Needs, a non-profit on a mission to bring clean drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, education, electricity, and proper food sources to the Navajo Nation.

Meet Fundamental Needs Executive Director Justice Ramos

I sat down with my friend, former high school track/XC teammate, and Executive Director of Fundamental Needs, Justice Ramos, to discuss the Four Corners Virtual Challenge fundraiser to see how more WeeViews runners could get involved.

Read on for more details about:

Justice meets Kashon...

Justice Ramos, co-founded Fundamental Needs with his friend and University of Colorado (CU) Track teammate, Kashon Harrison, who is now Fundamental Needs’ Public Relations Executive. 

  • Justice ran for 5 years at CU, specializing in the 800m, and in his senior year, met Kashon. 
  • As teammates, the two spent a lot of time, and ran many miles together–as one would expect in the demanding realm of college athletics–and quickly became close friends. 

Kashon grew up in Kirtland, New Mexico, a small town in northwestern New Mexico that is on the Navajo Reservation and where nearly half of all residents are Native American.

He was all too familiar with the struggles the community faces. Once the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic struck the world with full force, the Navajo Reservation felt its impact magnified by preexisting resource scarcity. 

Justice (left) co-founder of Fundamental Needs, grew up in the Four Corners area. His family worked on the Navajo Reservation as teachers, gaining first hand insight into the issues that plague the community.

Fundamental Needs: How it started...

Fundamental Needs started out as an emergency assistance organization during the 2020 pandemic.

Justice and his board members, Jennie and Joe Ramos, who are residents of the Four Corners area, and advocates for Native American communities, heard how bad the conditions on the reservations were during the height of pandemic lockdowns, so they jumped into action.

“We saw a need so we started delivering food, PPE, firewood, helping out where we could,” Justice says.

And Kashon played a pivotal role in Fundamental Needs’ origin:

“When COVID hit and we decided to start something to help the Navajo Reservation, Kashon was the obvious choice to get involved since it would be for his own community and people," says Justice.

And now you can help Fundamental Needs, too, by joining the Four Corners Virtual Challenge this month.

Ultrarunner Timberlin Henderson has been a vital community connection in the founding of Fundamental Needs.

Join THIS Runner to help the Navajo Nation

A little less than three years later, Fundamental Needs began partnering with tribal community leaders and members to find sustainable solutions to more systemic issues like access to electricity and clean, running water. 

“We went from immediate need to proof of concept,” says Justice.

And that's how he met Navajo ultrarunner, Timberlin Henderson.

Timberlin connected the organization with several families, including his own grandmother, in New Mexico that were candidates for Fundamental Needs’ aid.

Maybe you don't have any plans to try and keep up with Timberlin for a 200-plus-mile ultra, but you can still run, bike, walk, and move to make a difference...by joining the Four Corners Virtual Challenge this month.

Timberlin described Fundamental Needs’ impact on the community as:  

  • “Truly life-changing."

 Timberlin’s grandma and many other Navajo elders have struggled over the years, lacking access to electricity and running water.

But the organization has given the community new hope for the future.

Fundamental Needs is one of Timberlin’s favorite charities to run for.

Why?

”What I think sets them apart is the fact that they let each community's greatest needs guide the project,"says Timberlin.

"This I feel makes each step and each effort so pure and precious.” 

Timberlin and his crew pose for a photo at the end of his 420 RUN PROJECT in San Francisco, Calif.

Run like Timberlin to help the Navajo Nation

In 2022, Timberlin partnered with Fundamental Needs on the 420 RUN PROJECT. 

In hopes of raising awareness and money for the installation of off-grid water systems for Navajo families, Timberlin:

  • Ran for 5 days from Monterey to San Francisco, Calif. on the California Coastal Trail,
  • Covering 252.2 miles
  • His community members in New Mexico chipped in and ran enough to total the project 475 miles
  • The combined effort raised enough funds to move the needle forward on Fundamental Needs’ early projects. 

And he's still going in this month's Four Corners Virtual Challenge.

Run to help raise $50K for Fundamental Needs

This year, Fundamental Needs’ goal is to raise $50,000 dollars for their current projects and have virtual race participants log 56,000 miles–all by the end of June!

The money from this virtual run will be directed toward a brand new project...

  • The construction of a bike park for underserved youth! 

The park will provide a healthy outlet for young people who lack out-of-school resources. 

"With our efforts together, we can make sure these kids get the resources they need to be successful and have the confidence to see and make a better future for their community," says Timberlin.

You can join Timberlin Henderson in the Four Corners Virtual Challenge (June 1-30) to help the Navajo Nation and Fundamental Needs.

1. Navigate to Race the Four Corners Virtual Challenge and register!

2. Donate. Each participant donates $25 that will go directly to the Fundamental Needs project. You can opt to cover the additional service fee from the website to ensure Fundamental Needs gets every dime of your contribution.

3. Sign up as a team or individual and link your activity tracking device to the virtual race. The Charity Footprints website is compatible with Garmin, Strava etc.

4. Get moving. You can run, walk, or bike and your activity will upload to the virtual challenge leaderboards–any aerobic activity counts!

5. Win. Participants can win prizes as they hit donation goals!

  • Raise $50 as an individual, earn a Fundamental Needs T-Shirt
  • Raise $125 as a team and earn a Fundamental Needs Hat
  • Raise $200 as a team and earn a Fundamental Needs Hoodie

Want to learn more about what Fundamental Needs does and how you can help?

Follow Fundamental Needs on Instagram and read about their ongoing projects HERE

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Abigail Lock
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Endurance athlete with a proclivity for mountain running and high altitude desert dwelling. NASM Certified Sports Nutriti...

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