A 33-year-old mother of three from Michigan is running the Boston Marathon on Monday for a cause larger than the grueling challenge of finishing a 26.2-mile race: She’s using her participation in the storied event to raise money for refugees from Syria.
Rahaf Khatib rose to prominence last September when she became the first woman to appear on the cover of Women’s Running magazine wearing a hijab. Khatib is the daughter of Syrian immigrants and over the last two years has completed six marathons. She’s also become something of a social media sensation, having amassed more than 10,000 followers of her runlikeahijabi Instagram account.
As the crisis in Syria has continued to worsen, Khatib found herself wanting to do something to help those fleeing the carnage. But, she told CNN, as a stay-at-home mom, she didn’t have the money herself to donate to the cause. So, she vowed that if her dream of running the Boston Marathon came true, she would use the occasion to raise awareness and funds — and that’s exactly what she’s doing. “This is giving back to both humanity and giving back to the running community,” she said, adding that there was a “deep need” for it in her community, which has one of the highest concentrations of Syrian refugees in the country. Khatib had set out to raise $15,000 and exceeded that total, leaving only the challenging race course as the last obstacle to completing the mission. On the morning of the race, Khatib posted on Instagram saying that she was “tossing and turning all night” and that she’s “honored and thrilled” to be taking part in the iconic race.
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I couldn't sleep. Was tossing and turning all night. The weather is supposed to be very hot not acclimated to that. But I know God brought me here for a reason. As my buddy @manirostom just told me, I worked hard and deserve to be here. I'm honored and thrilled and know this will be an incredible experience inshallah. Nothing to do but run 26.2!!!!! Good luck to all #running @bostonmarathon! #beboston #bostonstrong #muslimathletes #unapologeticallymuslim #running4acause #running4refugees #hylandspowered
Khatib’s viral success has even surprised herself, she told CNN. “I never really imagined myself as a figure on social media. I’m just an average joe runner who’s trying to make a point and break stereotypes.”
Read the full story at CNN.com