Rancho Santa Fe man running to raise money for kids shelter in Ethiopia


By Claire Harlin

Tim Williams has never run a race before, but he committed to run a half marathon in Las Vegas on Dec. 2, and what keeps him going in his training is a certain cause he has decided to support along the way.

The Rancho Santa Fe resident didn’t begin his training with philanthropic intentions, but after a conversation with his friend, John Rowe, about the dire needs of Omo Child, a children’s shelter Rowe co-founded in Ethiopia, Williams found himself fixated on helping his friend, who has been making up for funding shortages by subsidizing from his own pocket each month to feed the kids.

“I was on a really hot run once and all I could think about was Ethiopia,” Williams said. “I realized I should be running not for my own accomplishment but to benefit Omo Child.”

Williams set a goal of raising $25,000 before race day, and donors can give a fixed amount or a per-mile amount on a special donation page he set up (link below).

“I promise I’ll finish, whether or not I have to do it in a wheelchair,” said Williams, who is the vice president of Rancho Santa Fe real estate company DWO Enterprises.

Omo Child rescues and cares for Mingi children located in the Omo River Valley region of Southwest Ethiopia, Africa. The children in the shelter were rescued because they were in line to be drowned or starved by tribal elders who thought the children brought a curse to the village. Mingi means “ritually polluted,” and a child might inherit that title if he or she is a twin, grows teeth on the upper jaw before the lower jaw, or is born out of wedlock. Even chipping a tooth might result in a tribe declaring a child Mingi.

“The kids who are at our shelter wouldn’t survive otherwise,” said Rowe, a renowned photographer. “There is no place else for them to go.”

Rowe said there’s a funding shortage at the shelter and it’s somewhere in the thousands each month. He’s been covering the costs that money from the shelter’s usual donors doesn’t cover, but he said he can’t keep doing that every month.

Williams has raised just over $4,000 so far in training for his run, however, he hopes more than anything the awareness he’s spreading will encourage people to become regular donors that can contribute as much or as little per month as they can.

To learn more about the run or make a donation visit

  1. For more information about Rowe, visit, and for more information about Omo Child, visit