Sevierville’s Bob Foster will become the first American to participate in the Muskathlon and run 60 kilometers – that’s 37.3 miles – in the 4th Musketeer Muskathlon supporting Compassion International– where participants run, bike or walk to help release children from poverty in the name of Jesus.
Foster’s run will take place in June in Kenya, but Compassion, a Christian child sponsorship organization, has held events all over the world. During Foster’s week-long trip starting May 31, 2015, he and his teammates will minister to people in Nairobi slums and villages in Kenya, meet children who are being sponsored by Compassion and participate in daily devotions. The week will end with the athletic events.
As he prepares his body and mind for the trip to Kenya husband, father and businessman Foster is trying to raise $10,000 and/or get at least 10 children sponsored through Compassion, a group “dedicated to long-term development of children living in poverty around the world,” according to the group’s web site www.compassion.com.
Foster said he and wife Angel prayed about the trip, prayed about the charity and its work for underprivileged children on the other side of the world and about what role God wanted them to play, how they could raise their family and help others.
“Angel really puts our kids in their shoes (our sponsored children) – what if it were them and someone else had the means to help and didn’t,” he said.
According to the United Nations, 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty – that’s living on less than $1.25 a day. Among those, about 400 million are children, according to The World Bank.
In addition to the money Foster is raising to help feed and give medical care to 10 children in Kenya, he and Angel are paying for his trip, all the while raising 5 children and running a travel resort business in Sevierville, Tenn. in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Foster and his wife have thus far helped get seven children sponsored. They sponsored three, and hope to sponsor many more. The other four have been sponsored by people supporting Bob’s run and mission.
An avid runner and searching for his role in The 4th Musketeer, Foster was singled out by the group’s leadership to do a Muskathlon. “They approached me and said ‘we are looking for someone to lead the charge and be the first in the U.S. to participate – would you be interested?’ They asked me to pray about this. So we did, and we believe this is where God is leading our family.” he said.
Foster has run competitively since he was 13 – running for Daviess County High School in his hometown of Owensboro, Ky., and 2 college teams – Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and The University of Kentucky. He has run 4 marathons and always finds time to get his mileage in – even when he has to push his 2 toddler sons in a stroller.
For Foster, the Muskathlon is the culmination of a focused and spiritual year. With encouragement from his men’s group at Pathways Church in Sevierville, he attended his first “4th Musketeer” event in the spring of 2014 in the Appalachian Mountains. Called an “Xtreme Character Challenge,” participates spend 72 hours hiking rough terrain with few amenities. It’s hard to describe, Foster said, but along with the rigors of the physical activity, the group encourages men “to be men again, to serve the King” he said, to be leaders in their homes, their churches, their work and their communities.