After running from Virginia Beach to Wilmington, Ashley Horner is headed to Haiti for a 230-mile charity run

“Haiti has always been in my heart,” said Horner, a mother of three from Virginia Beach, who will be raising awareness and funds for the Maison Fortune Orphanage and Primary School in Hinche, Haiti.

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Ashley Horner ran from Virginia Beach to Wilmington, NC last year for charity and she will do a similiar ultra run next month in Haiti. (Photo courtesy Ashley Horner)
Ashley Horner ran from Virginia Beach to Wilmington, N.C., last year for charity and she will do a similar ultra run next month in Haiti. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Horner)

Five days.

That is how long it took pro fitness competitor Ashley Horner to run from Virginia Beach to Wilmington, N.C., last year. But she wasn’t doing her best Forrest Gump impression.

She embarked on the 280-mile journey to support the Unbroken Movement Foundation that she started, and to raise money for the Benefited Safe Haven House in Burgaw, N.C. Her incredible athletic achievement was a rousing success.

After five long days of running along the side of the road and dealing with the different weather conditions, she exceeded her fundraising goal and, because of her efforts, she was able to cut a check for $18,000 toward the local safe shelter for women and children.

Horner is at it again – running ridiculously long distances to help the less fortunate. But this time, the terrain will be a little different. Starting the first week in April, the mother of three plans to run 230 miles along the coast in Haiti to support the Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation.

Ashley Horner visits with children from the Maison Fortune Orphanage and Primary School located in Hinche, Haiti in December. (Photo courtesy Ashley Horner)
Ashley Horner visits with children from the Maison Fortune Orphanage and Primary School located in Hinche, Haiti in December. (Photo courtesy Ashley Horner)

“I can’t really explain it but the country of Haiti has always been in my heart,” Horner, owner of the gym American Sled Dogs in Virginia Beach, said in a phone interview this week.

“I’ve been patient and just waiting for an opportunity to do something like this.”

Her goal is to raise $25,000 for the Maison Fortune Orphanage and Primary School located in Hinche, Haiti, which was founded in 2000. Its goal is to raise awareness and funds to help make sure their residents are empowered to become the future leaders of Haiti.

Related: William & Mary students reflect on their alternative break to Haiti

When you think of long-distance running, marathons, which are 26.2 miles, usually come to mind. Then there are what is called an ultra-marathon, which stretches to 100 miles. Both distances can test the true grit on any accomplished endurance runner.

But it appears Horner is just on another level.

“It is a little crazy but I love doing it,” said Horner, an ultra-runner and triathlete, who is also an accomplished soccer player who competed for the Guam national team. “It goes toward a great cause so we need to do what we can for them.”

This will be Horner’s second trip to the Caribbean island nation. She was introduced to the Maison Fortune Orphanage last December when she visited with two of her sons, Cash, 7, and Tripp, 9. Her youngest son, Otto, just turned 2.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” said Horner, an Oklahoma native, who moved to Virginia Beach three years ago. “My sons now call the boys there their brothers. At first, the boys in Haiti were a little standoffish. I think it’s because they are used to people visiting and then they never see them again. But we want to have a relationship with them and we are committed.”

Horner's son, Cash, centre, with children from the Maison Fortune Orphanage and Primary School located in Hinche, Haiti last December. (Photo courtesy Ashely Horner)
Horner’s son, Cash, centre, with children from the Maison Fortune Orphanage and Primary School located in Hinche, Haiti last December. (Photo courtesy of Ashely Horner)

After their initial visit, Horner became the biggest monthly donor to the orphanage. And after this project, she plans to visit every three months.

“These kids want to go to college and we are going to be there every step of the way,” she said.

The Haiti run will add a few more obstacles compared to what Horner experienced during her Virginia Beach-to-Wilmington trek.

“During this run, I will be climbing a combined 4,000 feet in elevation,” Horner said. “Getting used to the humidity will obviously be a challenge. In Haiti, they burn their trash so the air quality will be questionable.”

And a quick visit to the doctor for updated shots is also on the agenda before the trip.

The plan is to arrive in Port au Prince, the Haitian capital, and start her run from just outside of town. She will be accompanied by security personnel on motorcycles and will also be followed by a van, which will hold her staff and a Haitian doctor.

“I am going to try and finish in three days,” Horner said. “I will definitely take advantage of some night running as it will be cooler outside in the evening.”

From Port au Prince, Horner’s planned route will take her through Saint-Marc, north through Cape Haitian and then finally into Hinche, where the orphanage is located.

During the final mile of the run, Horner will be joined by her younger sons and many of the children from the orphanage so they can finish the homestretch together.

Online fundraising for the Haitian run opened three weeks ago and Horner said more than $1,000 has been raised so far. Sponsors for Horner’s run also include Reebok, bodybuilding.com, Camelbak, RockTape, and American Sled Dogs.

Click here to donate: https://www.razoo.com/story/7axccf

Horner is designing a phone app that will track her progress through Haiti and will provide real-time updates. On social media, you can follow Horner’s run with the hashtag #AshleyRunsHaiti.

For more information and updates, follow Horner on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Ashley Horner with children from the Maison Fortune Orphanage and Primary School located in Hinche, Haiti in December. (Photo courtesy Ashley Horner)
Ashley Horner with children from the Maison Fortune Orphanage and Primary School located in Hinche, Haiti in December. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Horner)
Ashley Horner with a child from the Maison Fortune Orphanage and Primary School located in Hinche, Haiti in December. (Photo courtesy Ashley Horner)
Ashley Horner with a child from the Maison Fortune Orphanage and Primary School located in Hinche, Haiti in December. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Horner)

For more information, or to have your recent trip highlighted in our new travel section, please email travel editor Aaron Gray at aaron@localvoicemedia.com