Gilbert Krause
Children at MICS School in Zambia, Africa, help Greg Krause train for the New York City Marathon, September 2008.
NBC News
updated 10/6/2009 12:18:09 PM ET 2009-10-06T16:18:09

For those discount-hunters who love to travel, a reasonably priced airline ticket can make all the difference in their pockets and their voyage. For recent medical school graduate Greg Krause, it’s just the ticket he needed to help needy children in Africa.

Krause, 39, bought a JetBlue All You Can Jet Pass, a promotional offer that allowed 30 days of unlimited flights for $599, to travel around the world to raise money for a school in Zambia that his parents founded for orphaned and abandoned children.

Krause began his jet-setting journey on Sept. 8 in Chicago and will end his trip on Thursday in the same city. During that span he will fly more than 55,000 miles and visit 27 cities in five countries to spread the word about the school. “I was just looking for something different, something no one else has done before,” he said last week while on a stop in Costa Rica.

Krause’s parents, Gil and Ronda Krause, started the started the MICS School in the remote village of Macha, Zambia, four years ago to help orphaned and abandoned children. The school now serves more than 50 student in kindergarten through 4th grade. “We are just trying to give them an education to step up when they are in kind of a hopeless situation because orphans are so vulnerable,” Gil Krause says.

Greg Krause fell in love with Macha when he visited his parents there several years ago. He is always searching for new and creative ways to raise money and awareness for the school. Last year, he raised $9,000 in sponsorship money when he auctioned himself off and ran the New York City Marathon in pajamas. This year he was looking for another attention-grabbing feat when he came across JetBlue’s All You Can Jet Pass, which was available for a limited time.

He found a sponsoring partner for his trip in Orphan’s Promise, an extension of the Christian Broadcasting Network that helps orphans and vulnerable children around the world. Terry Meeuwsen, director of Orphan’s Promise, CBN co-host and a former Miss America, heard about Greg’s mission through his parents, whom she met while in Zambia with her organization. ”We were excited about the opportunity to work with him,” Meeuwsen says.

Meeuwsen enjoys watching following Greg’s blog daily and is proud of what he is doing for both the school and Orphan’s Promise. “Doesn’t it thrill you when you meet an individual who cares enough about others that are disadvantaged to take time out from his life and his schedule to try to make a difference? I say hats off to him and everyone else who is doing the same kind of thing.”

All the donations that come in through the Orphan’s Promise Web site for the month Krause is traveling will go directly to the school. As of Monday, he had raised nearly $4,600.

Exhausting mission
Krause’s parents have invested much of their own money to help the school in Zambia grow and flourish. They say they desperately need a 4X4 vehicle because their truck broke down under the harsh conditions of the rural countryside, with no paved roads for two hours. It has been difficult to get supplies to the school and transport the children around without reliable transportation.

Greg Krause
Greg Krause sports an Orphan’s Promise T-shirt at a pit stop in Denver in September.
Krause says he hopes his trip will raise enough money to buy a vehicle and to fund other school needs. Eventually he would like to see the school get electricity and expand to accommodate more students.

Although he loves to travel, Krause finds this mission to be exhausting. “I am basically putting myself in a situation that I am not normally accustomed to.”

Krause remains motivated by remembering the children. He often thinks of 12-year-old Christopher, a donkey herder who was abandoned by his family. Having never gone to school before, Christopher started kindergarten at MICS School with children much younger than him. But in just two years, he has gone from no education at all to completing fourth grade. “The kids are so desperate to learn that they will do whatever they can to get an education,” says Krause.

Making a difference
Krause, who starts his residency next summer in family practice, says he has been humbled by many people he has met on his global jaunt and knows that getting the word out is the most important goal. Along the way he has gotten e-mails of best wishes from JetBlue employees, executives and even briefly met the CEO.

JetBlue is no stranger to philanthropic efforts and has many of their own. “We have always been a charitable company. It is an important part of our culture”, says Icema Gibbs, director of corporate social responsibility. “We are always pleased when a customer has decided to do something good for somebody else.”

Ronda Krause is overwhelmed when she thinks of all her son has done for the school and sums Greg up in one word: “amazing.”

“He’s had the vision and the faith and he’s stepped out and he has the hope that it will be successful and it will be.”

Meeuwsen has some simple advice for Greg, his parents and anyone else trying to make a difference. “We can’t change them all, but we can speak to the ones who cross our paths. We can make a difference. You can’t just sit down because you can’t fix the whole problem. You gotta do what you can with what’s in front of you.”

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