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Haile Gebrselassie Coming to Detroit for Free Press/Flagstar Marathon

Visit prompted by involvement in Detroit-based Ethiopian aid organization

DETROIT, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie will be in Detroit the weekend of October 20-21 in a visit that coincides with the Detroit Free Press/ Flagstar Marathon.

Gebrselassie will be in Detroit to support a dinner raising funds for the Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association (ENAHPA), an organization founded by Detroit cardiac physician Dr. Ingida Asfaw, dedicated to alleviating the severe health care crisis in Ethiopia.

Gebrselassie broke the existing world record by 29 seconds September 23rd when he ran the Berlin Marathon in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 26 seconds. Race organizers said Gebrselassie has indicated that he will start the Marathon and run a portion of the route, but that he has not yet decided whether he will complete the entire 26.2 miles. The Berlin Marathon is his 23rd race in distances ranging from two miles to a marathon.

"We are moved and inspired by his level of commitment. As far as I know, no other athlete has ever been willing to make such a public statement," said Marathon Director Patricia Ball. "We are excited to have Haile participate in the Marathon; we've never had anyone of this magnitude to participate in the race before."

ENAHPA has sponsored 10 medical missions to Ethiopia since 2001, assembling a small army of medical professionals and volunteers who donate their time and talents to provide free surgical and medical care to Ethiopian citizens. Gebrselassie is an honorary chair of ENAHPA's Faces of Ethiopia Inaugural Dinner and will attend the event, held on October 20, at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center. Proceeds from the dinner will help fund future missions and provide a wide range of health and human services programs for Ethiopia.

"Having the world record holder in the marathon with us for the 30th annual Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon will make this year's race even more of a milestone," said Free Press Publisher David Hunke. "The race is an institution that draws competitors from beyond this region and his presence, whether he ultimately decides to run the full race or not, will add to its stature."

The Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon started in 1978 with 1,942 participants. This year's Marathon marks the 30th anniversary of the race, with 15,000 people expected to run or walk the unique course that crosses the U.S./Canadian border twice, featuring musical entertainment along the way.

The Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon ranks as one of the best venues for running 26.2 miles in North America. Marathon and Beyond Magazine rates only six marathons higher.

In addition to Gebrselassie, other honorary dinner chairs include Emmy Award winning choreographer, actor and director Debbie Allen; multiple Grammy Award winning jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock and his wife GiGi; Ethiopian international supermodel Liya Kebede and Judge Greg Mathis, a Detroit native whose syndicated show is seen throughout the country. Also, serving as co-chairs are President and CEO Anne Belec of Volvo Cars of North America, and Detroit-area business leaders Frank Stella and Don Barden.

Sponsors for the event are: Volvo Cars of North America, Chrysler, The Suburban Group, Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., LLC, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital, Plymouth United Church of Christ, Glenn and Christine Hershey, The Jackson Group, The Locniskar Group, The Migliazzo Group and Berg Muirhead and Associates Public Relations.

For ticket prices or more information about the Faces of Ethiopia Inaugural Dinner contact ENAHPA at (313) 872-2000 or email:

For more information on the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon call 313-222-6676 or e-mail:

SOURCE Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association
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