Sometimes people are bridges that connect other people to each other or people to distant places.
Pete Noll of Sewickley, a 1992 graduate of Quaker Valley High School, wants to build a bridge between the people of his hometown and the Pittsburgh area and the people of Oaxaca, Mexico, where he currently lives, through a 5-mile benefit -Races in North beat Parking on October 2nd.
Noll is the Executive Director and former board member of TASH Inc., a nonprofit that supports La Clinica del Pueblo and partner organizations in Oaxaca.
One hundred percent of the revenue from the race will provide access to health care for the poorest people in Oaxaca during the ongoing crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Much more attention has been paid to the essential frontline health workers in the past 18 months.
“I am very grateful to everyone who works for the common good. Growing up in Sewickley, I’ve lived in Central America and southern Mexico since 1997, aside from graduating from Carnegie Mellon, ”said Noll. “However, I will be there again to take part in the 13th annual Olé 5k Benefit race in support of the hospital ‘Anna Seethaler’ (La Clinica del Pueblo) in Oaxaca, Mexico.”
Oaxaca is located in southern Mexico. It is home to 40% of the indigenous languages spoken in the country – 58% of the people speak an indigenous language, compared to the national average of 15%. Noll said Oaxaca has beautiful mountains and coastline, as well as world-famous food and culture. The biodiversity in Oaxaca is internationally recognized by UNESCO.
It is also one of the economically poorest states in Mexico. Its diversity goes hand in hand with a lack of access to education, basic health care and employment. It’s often shocking to think of a context that has so much potential, but its people live on a minimum daily wage of $ 5.
In 1998 Father Scott Seethaler from Pittsburgh visited Oaxaca for the first time. He was immediately impressed by the friendliness and humility of the people, but also couldn’t ignore the enormous need for basic, high quality health care. From this visit, La Clinica was born.
What started as a humble medical clinic has grown into a full-service hospital that has now treated more than 180,000 low-income patients. Oaxaca has a population of 3.8 million people and as of March 2020, 70,500 cases – 1.8% of the population – have been reported who have tested positive for Covid-19 and reports a death rate of 0.0125%. Oaxaca has the lowest number of ICU beds in the country, just 60 total for the state’s entire population.
Noll said the nonprofit hospital has put 10 employees on leave with Covid-19 and found 85 positive cases in patients. Despite the inherent risks of daily contact, the team remains motivated and keeps its doors open 24/7 to serve others.
“On a summer trip back to Pittsburgh, I brought my wife and two children from Mexico. When I took her on the Pittsburgh Gateway Clipper, the guide said we have over 400 physical bridges. As a metaphor, it inspires me to build bridges of solidarity between those in Oaxaca and Pittsburgh, ”said Noll.
At the end of the Olé 5K there is a Mexican buffet, organic coffee from Oaxaca, smoothies, 50/50 raffle, music and an award ceremony.
Ole 5K takes place on October 2nd at 10am at North Park’s Harmar Grove Pavilion in Pie Traynor. Registration costs $ 25 and the virtual race is $ 20. For more information or to sign up, visit tashinc.org/ole5k/race-inco.