Hilary Matfess has been interested in U.S. politics for some time.
But the 2010 graduate admits she was "clueless" about the international political arena until a teacher at Greenbrier High School opened her eyes.
"The reason I got so interested in international affairs ... is that one of my favorite teachers of all time, Tracy Roden ... got me involved with Model U.N.," Matfess said of the teacher who now works at Grovetown High School.
"I was head delegate this year," she added.
The experience made Matfess more conscious of global affairs. It also led her to pursue a goal she recently achieved -- the opportunity to attend Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on a Hodson Trust Scholarship.
As Matfess became more aware, she started regularly visiting Web sites for publications such as The New York Times and Newsweek . What stuck out most through her research was the plight of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Then, she decided to act.
Matfess will play host to a 5-K run on Saturday at Blanchard Woods Park, with proceeds benefiting Congolese women through the Women for Women International organization.
"It's summer, it's beautiful and this course is wonderful," she said. "You can make it as challenging as you want, or walk as much as you want."
The 5-K will start at 7 a.m. The cost is $18, which includes a T-shirt and a drink.
The event is for a great cause, Matfess noted.
"In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 5.4 million people have died. That's huge," she said. "And a lot of them are children. And, that's just the number of people who have died.
"That's not the number of displaced people. That's not the number of people who have been injured. That's not the number of women who have been raped. And as with any global conflict, women are disproportionately affected."
According to a study completed by the International Rescue Committee, "Conflict and humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo have taken the lives of 5.4 million people since 1998 and continue to leave as many as 45,000 dead every month."
From her time playing soccer at Greenbrier and with the Columbia County Patriots and Augusta Arsenal travel clubs, Matfess said she learned organizational skills that help her run events such as this one.
Matfess also helped organize a walk for lupus in conjunction with the Augusta-based non-profit organization Skip To My Lupus.
Organizing events for a cause is something Matfess hopes to continue. Her time at Johns Hopkins -- where her prime focus will be women's and children's rights in the Middle East and Africa -- will be beneficial.
"I'd love to be able to mend U.S. foreign policy so that we're focusing on promoting human rights and not just the interests of large corporations.
"It's not going to be an easy task," Matfes said. "But in doing simple things like this -- getting some people together to go run and donate some money -- we can help out the best way we can."
For information or to register for the 5-K, call (706) 267-7966 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.