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The trials

Native of Kenya pursuing ultimate goal of providing his family with a better life

Posted: May 10, 2009 9:20 p.m.
Updated: May 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Senior Golden Valley sprinter and native of Kenya Enock Aduo plans on getting an education, finding a job and bringing his family to the United States. Senior Golden Valley sprinter and native of Kenya Enock Aduo plans on getting an education, finding a job and bringing his family to the United States.
Senior Golden Valley sprinter and native of Kenya Enock Aduo plans on getting an education, finding a job and bringing his family to the United States.
Golden Valley sprinter Enock Aduo is running toward a finish line that isn't painted on a track.

If he gets there, he won't be honored as a Foothill League champion, or anything of that nature.

This finish line holds something much more important: the salvation of his family.

"I want to bring my sisters a better lifestyle," says Aduo, a native of Kenya. "Every time I call my mom, I remember why I came here."

Now a senior, Aduo ran the 400-meter dash for Golden Valley and was part of the 4x400-meter relay team this season. His teammates and coaches know him as the life of practices and meets.

"He brings levity and a sense of humor," says Golden Valley co-head coach Chris Evans. "He always has a smile and he's always joking with the guys."

It's a stark contrast from the quiet freshman who came to America four years ago with a tremendous weight on his shoulders.

Aduo was born in the slums of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, amid poverty and political corruption. He lived with his parents and three sisters in a brick house with just two bedrooms.

In primary school, the Kenyan equivalent of junior high, Aduo experienced a harsh curriculum in which teachers only teach a lesson once - and spank students who do poorly.

His father passed away due to HIV in early 2005, and one of his sisters fell ill the same year with a brain disease that has rendered her unable to walk or talk. Aduo's mother quit her job to take care of his sister, and he and his family knew that something had to be done.

Aduo would come to the United States, get a better education and earn a job, all in hopes of one day moving his family to America.

He made the most of the days leading up to his departure.

"I started looking for the most complicated words in English, and I would come to school the next day and brag to friends," Aduo laughs.

But he never lost focus on his goal.

"Every time I run, I put my family in my mind to pump me up," he says.

Aduo was running for a different reason the day he left in August 2005.

His flight from Nairobi was scheduled to leave at 2 p.m. London time that afternoon, but Aduo got lost and had to scramble to take a bus to his terminal. He boarded the plane at 1:30 p.m., the last passenger to do so.

Aduo was in seventh grade when he left Kenya, but his age made him a freshman in the American school system.

He lives in Canyon Country with his uncle, Tom Aduwo, who explained the new school system to him. Aduwo is an administrative analyst at Pierce College and has lived in the United States for almost 15 years.

"He had to quickly catch up with life here because he had several challenges," Aduwo says. "He had to skip a grade and the school he was going to (in Kenya) wasn't the greatest. He's been able to really focus on school and meet a lot of the challenges."

Aduo made sure he was on time to his classes to avoid being late and calling attention to himself.

His attention, meanwhile, was grabbed by the amenities at Golden Valley High School.

"I saw TVs in the classrooms," he says. "I saw the teachers had computers. I was like, ‘Whoa, are these people really that rich?'"

At first, Aduo ate alone and didn't have many friends. A custodian suggested he join the cross country team, given the strong heritage of Kenyan runners.

He met with Golden Valley cross country coach Gary Williamson and joined the team, where he began to make friends.

But his running needed work.

"He was very stilted," Evans says. "He couldn't bend his knees. He had no muscles or flexibility."

Aduo himself compares his old running style to a giraffe, with little lift from his feet and short strides.

So he began to work on his running with the cross country team, doing drills that improved his strength and taught him quicker steps and wider range of motion in his legs.

Aduo decided to join the track team a year ago, and he pole-vaulted during his first season. The highest he cleared was 7 feet, but after running the 400 at practice during the cross country season, Evans and his brother Rob told Aduo to try sprinting.

He was injured during the 400 at Friday's Foothill League championships, and didn't compete in the 4x400 race.

The track team, however, has welcomed Aduo and given him an outlet while he works toward his larger goal.

"The track team is like my second family," Aduo says. "The seniors last year looked out for us, cheered for us and comforted us. It's a great second family."
His teammates reciprocate the love.

"I always look up to him," says sprinter Corey Chaison. "He brings joy and focus. I don't know how to explain it. He's the best guy."

Off the track, Aduo joined the Christian Club at Golden Valley High School and preaches to other students as the leader.

"He has a good sense of perspective," Rob Evans says. "He doesn't take what we do for granted."

With plans to study computer sciences, Aduo has already been accepted into California State University, San Bernardino, and he is also considering College of the Canyons.

He isn't sure if he'll run track in college, but getting to college is a significant accomplishment in his journey.

"Graduation is going to be a major milestone in his life and something I'm very proud of," Aduwo says. "We hope he'll have the same kind of intensity for his studies in college. We just pray and hope he'll continue."

Aduo came a long way from Kenya to live in the United States, and he's come a long way over the past four years to develop as a mature young man.

But his mission is not over. He talks to his mom periodically and is reminded of how much his family needs him.

The finish line is still ahead.

"Even if I do badly on a test, I move forward," Aduo says. "I'm here for important reasons."


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