Some Omaha high school students are organizing a 5K fundraiser to benefit a boy with local ties who was left orphaned after his family was killed in Canada.
Dear Dunya, a student-run nonprofit, will host a 5K for Fayez Afzaal on Saturday.
Fayez, 9, was seriously injured June 6 in London, Ontario, Canada, when a pickup truck struck him and his family while they were out for an evening walk. His mother, father, sister and grandmother were killed.
The driver of the pickup was charged with terrorism in the incident, which police allege was premeditated, according to the Associated Press.
The Dear Dunya group learned about Fayez because of the boy’s ties to the Omaha area. His aunt is a teacher at the American Muslim Institute.
“Even though it didn’t necessarily happen directly in our community, it really affected all of us,” said Emaan Khan, a director of the organization.
Khan said organizers hope to raise money to support Fayez, but the group also wants to raise awareness about Islamophobia and other religious hate crimes.
“Even though we seem like we’re progressing,” Khan said, “we’re not. It’s just an absolute tragedy. Many people don’t know about these types of things happening in the world.”
Dear Dunya members reached out to partner with the Tri-Faith Initiative for the event.
Wendy Goldberg, executive director of the Tri-Faith Initiative, said the event is an example of what it means to peacefully coexist.
“Even in response to a painful incident, we are able to come together and celebrate life, and we have an opportunity to stand in a more positive fashion with this family,” Goldberg said.
Saturday’s 5K starts at 2 p.m. on the Tri-Faith campus, 13136 Faith Plaza, which is southeast of 132nd and Pacific Streets. Advance registration costs $5. In-person registration costs $10. Children 9 and under are free.
For more information, visit deardunya.com.