Three Iraqi “Young Ambassadors” – Teeba, Ala’a, and Humoody – Steal the Show at IN THEIR SHOES 5K

June 13, 2017

The Iraqi Children Foundation’s 2017 IN THEIR SHOES 5K drew the largest crowd ever, with nearly 400 on site for the May 20 race and after-party in Alexandria, VA. Dignitaries, corporate sponsors, veterans and Gold Star mothers, all showed up to champion the cause of Iraq’s most vulnerable children. But the three Iraqi “Young Ambassadors” – Teeba, Ala’a, and Humoody – stole the show.

Their stories from Iraq are compelling. Teeba was badly injured as a baby when a car she was riding in was blown up by an IED. She has since endured 19 surgeries. Humoody was shot in the face and blinded. Ala’a was abandoned as a little boy because of his cerebral palsy.   All 3 participated in the 5K, becoming the faces and voices of so many vulnerable children back home in Iraq. They demonstrated the power of resilience and love in the face of great adversity.

The largest 5K team (below) – mobilized by the State Department’s Iraq office (NEA/I) – retained their crown from 2016, showing up with a team of 52, more than double their previous record.   Representatives of 5K sponsors Khudairi Group, Harris Corporation, and Children’s Village, showed up along with Iraq’s current Ambassador to the U.S. Fareed Yasseen, former Iraq Ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily, U.S. Ambassador William Taylor (Ret.), and Medal of Honor Recipient and Navy Seal Edward Byers.


A team of Gold Star Mothers (below) whose sons served in Iraq – Janice Chance, Kelly Swanson, Donna Robinson, Cynthia Ozbat, and Eileen Osmolski – showed up to join the 3 Young Ambassadors.  Cynthia Ozbat, in a touching remembrance of her son Jesse who had served in Iraq, observed the 5th anniversary of his death in Afghanistan by coming to the 5K with Jesse’s brother, Elijah.

Teams mobilized by our partners – the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) and Karadah Project (with Veterans for America Ideals) – made an impressive showing, along with veterans from Team Red White and Blue. And we salute our 5K volunteers, including Col. Paul Bricker (Ret.) and his team of Boy Scouts, as well as a team from Edison High School led by Kate Anderson.

The 5K after party included music, food, and kids activities.  DJ Yasir Alhilaway provided music for dancing, Casa Rosada had free gelato for everyone, Teeba did henna, and Kids Giving Hope to Kids got children to draw pictures for kids in Iraq. There was face painting and balloon animals, and – in a first for the annual 5K – the Iraqi caterer didn’t just make snacks, he surprised everyone by creating a beautiful 5K cake.

In addition to raising awareness of the plight of orphans, street kids, and children displaced by ISIS, ICF’s annual 5K mobilizes financial support for projects in Iraq to support these at-risk children. This year, 5K corporate support and individual donations totaled $46,432, one hundred percent of which goes directly to Iraq projects for children, not US based overhead.  To make a gift to support Iraqi children, please click here: Donate.

Cindy Fogleman