The atrocities against the temple elephants that she watched in the Gods in Shackles movie trailer disturbed her so dramatically that Monica Kelley, biology teacher in Geneva High School, New York State, was inspired to do something. She realized that these largest living land mammals are captured illegally and tortured into slavery, so people can make profit under the guise of culture and religion. Monica felt she simply couldn't sit back and allow the injustice and inhumane treatment to continue.
So she challenged herself to run a 20 mile marathon, to help create awareness of the plight of the Asian elephants that are used in temples and festivals. She crafted the details and planned them meticulously. With some help from engaged students, she organized a Relay Run for students and staff, while also inviting others from her school district to participate. She also asked some of the "dedicated students" to wear elephant costumes for publicizing the event at the Festival of Nations in her community.
Kelley offered to run one mile for every $100 raised, and committed to run a total of 20 miles, to help raise $2,000 for Gods in Shackles, in its post-production stage. The film exposes the barbaric torture of Asian elephants in the southern state of Kerala, India, where mostly bull elephants are paraded under the scorching sun, deprived of their basic necessities of life. The film is called Gods in Shackles because elephants are considered to be the embodiment of the most worshiped god in the Hindu religion – Lord Ganesha, also known as the remover of obstacles.
As it turned out, Kelley raised just over $2,000 within 40 days of launching her campaign. Then, on Saturday November the 14th she laced up her shoes, ready to live up to her pledge, and ran she did - the 20 mile marathon - beating the elements and all odds. She said, "During the run, the wind was extremely strong and cold, and it was blowing into my face the first 10 miles. It was very challenging but I just reminded myself that once I got half way, I could turn around and the wind would be to my back."
It's this kind of determination and positive outlook Kelley injects into her daily life that sets her a shining example, for people in her community, and most importantly her students - the future citizens of our planet. In an email interview with me Kelley said, she was inspired to complete the 20 mile run because she wanted to encourage her students to become involved in global wildlife issues, while supporting the making of Gods in Shackles, and engaging her school community.