Humanitarian author Dave Eggers, known for quirky best-sellers such as A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, is currently on a tour promoting his latest novel, The Parade, which centers on the lives of two foreign contractors working on a civil engineering project in South Sudan. Eggers is not a stranger to writing about this troubled African nation; his 2006 novel What is the What introduced many readers to the heartbreaking story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, children who arrived in the United States escaping destinies that would have turned them into child soldiers. One of those Lost Boys is Lopez Lomong, a rising track and field star who arrived in the U.S. at the age of 16.
Lopez Lomong specializes in the 800 and 1,500 meters track events; he represented the U.S. at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and has won two national championships. He has brought gold medals back from two North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships, and he is currently one of the most active track and field athletes. Lomong has spent most of the 21st century participating in collegiate, national and international competitions, his decision to become a track star was made when he was 15 years old and living in the massive Kakuma refugee camp of Kenya; a television brought in for entertainment was broadcasting the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and young Lomong was enthralled by the running prowess of legendary American athlete Michael Johnson.
The incredible story of Lomong’s rise to track stardom begins in the early 1990s; he was abducted while attending Sunday Mass but was able to escape his captors and cross the border into Kenya by means of running across the plains for three days. His family thought he had been killed, and he thought the same of his parents. Upon arrival to the U.S. in 2001, Lomong was enrolled in the 10th grade and promptly began competing in cross-country events. Amazingly, in 2003 he learned that his family was alive and living in Kenya, thus prompting a tearful reunion.
Through his work with the benevolent Catholic Charities organization, Lomong was able to bring his two younger brothers to the U.S. in 2009. They are promising college athletes in Arizona and Ohio, and they both hope to represent the U.S. in international competitions. Lomong has been outspoken about the plight of refugees fleeing from various armed conflicts around Africa, and he has also been a vocal critic of the draconian immigration policies enacted by President Donald Trump, which would have prevented him from achieving his dreams of freedom and athletic success.