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Teen inspires community to make a difference from Nashville to Africa

When Ellie Ambrose was only 10 years old, she had a dream of hosting a 5K Run and Family Fun Day to benefit kids in the slums of Africa. Today, Ellie is 19 and her dream has gathered great support in the Nashville community. Over the past nine years, thousands of middle Tennessee runners and fundraisers have joined together to raise more than $410,000 funding education for thousands of kids who now have hope of a future outside of the slums.

The Ambrose family. Photo submitted.

It’s what Ellie has inspired in others that has earned her the May Darrell Waltrip Automotive Hometown Hero Award. Because this one girl dared to dream, others are now doing the same.

Tiffany Lewis has volunteered with Ellie’s Run for several years serving as registration chair, operations chair and event director.

“When I first moved to Nashville I was eager to find a community of friends. I heard of Ellie’s Run through my church, Midtown Fellowship, and decided it would be a good way to meet new people,” Lewis said. “Through this experience, my husband and I adopted our daughter, Feruza, from Kenya. Ellie’s Run is all about working together as a community to make a big impact on the greater community.”

After hearing Ellie’s story, a local family was moved to act and help their kids learn that they too can dream big and take action. Leslie, mother to Cal, Liv and Zeke, describes how they became 2012’s highest Ellie’s Run Hero fundraisers.

“We were intrigued and more than a little amazed that such a young girl had dared to dream big,” Leslie said. “As a mom, I was most curious about Ellie’s parents who supported this endeavor (and no doubt worked obscenely hard to pull off the event).”

Leslie said that she signed her preschool-aged children to be heroes.

“We knew they were too young to truly ‘get it,’ but it seemed like a great way to start opening both their eyes to the needs of others, and opening their hearts to the idea of serving others,” she said. “In an effort to make it somewhat relevant to them, we set a goal to raise enough money to send 22 kids to school – the number of children in their combined preschool classes. We surpassed our financial goal and had a blast on race day.”

Other Ellie’s Run Hero fundraisers have come up with creative ideas to fundraise. Over the years, there have been fundraising events, bake sales, lemonade stands, YouTube videos, and Facebook posts. Kids and adults have surprised themselves and their friends and families by the difference a little creativity and hard work can make in the lives of students halfway around the world.

This Saturday, May 18, more than 1,000 participants will participate in the ninth annual 5K run and family fun day in downtown Nashville. As a part of Ellie's Hometown Hero award, a $500 donation will be made in her honor to Ellie's Run for Africa.

Darrell Waltrip Automotive’s Hometown Heroes is a monthly event honoring Middle Tennessee residents who have made a positive impact on their community. Nominate your hero at

Members of the community are invited to come join in the celebration as Ellie is honored June 11 at 11 a.m. at the Darrell Waltrip Honda Showroom.

About Ellie's Run for Africa

Date: Saturday, May 18, 2013

Time: 6:30 a.m., registration and entertainment and activities begin; 7:30 a.m., 5K race starts; 8:30 a.m., one-mile kids' fun run;

Registration: Onsite registration begins at 6:30 a.m.

Activities: Ellie’s Run for Africa includes a certified and professionally timed 5K race, a one-mile kids’ fun run, food, entertainment, games and cultural activities for families. The 5K race will take runners on a route through downtown Nashville and Music Row.

Location: 1st Avenue and Broadway, in front of Hard Rock Cafe, downtown Nashville

Parking: Free parking is available from 5:30 a.m. to noon at the following locations: Premier Parking, 147B 4th Ave. N., and Pinnacle, 150 3rd Ave. S.

Posted on: 5/17/2013


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