One Vanguard University student’s inspiring story captured the attention of up-and-coming filmmaker, Michael Zynda, and will now air on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Orange County channel. PBS OC can be found on channel 50.2 (channel number may vary based on location and cable or satellite provider).
On May 11, 2013, In a Race Against Time, a feature length film about runner Daniel Okabe will premiere on PBS Orange County. Studying communications at Vanguard University, Okabe is a senior and expects to graduate in the fall of 2013. His story inspired independent filmmaker Michael Zynda, who directed and produced the film.
The film focuses on a six-month period in 2011 where Okabe trains and races in multiple marathons, while attempting to raise the necessary funds to stay in the U.S. and finish his degree at Vanguard. Based on immigration law, if he was unable to get the funds and stay enrolled, he would have been forced to leave the country in 60 days. But that did not stop Okabe.
Before the film’s making, driven by a mission to save his father’s Christian radio station, Okabe began studying radio broadcasting at Golden West College in 2009. The need to save the radio station, Faith Radio, came after the Uganda Communications Commission set a new requirement for radio stations. The rule mandates that only individuals with degrees in journalism or mass communications can operate radio stations in Uganda.
Once Okabe learned of the new regulation, he knew what he had to do to save the family’s station, and so his journey began. With the help of Trish Fisher, the chair of the department of business and management at Vanguard’s School for Professional Studies, Okabe’s parents, as well as scholarships in music and athletics, Okabe was able to raise the funds necessary to attend Vanguard. Everyday Okabe gets closer to achieving his goal of saving his father’s radio station.
Radio is one of many ministries the Okabe family does for their country and their community. His father, Patrick, leads Impact Ministries Uganda running an orphanage and child care center that houses more than 300 children and feeds another 400 daily.
Now a distance runner on Vanguard’s cross-country team, Okabe is receiving actual training for the first time. Years of training himself, Okabe developed his raw talent and practiced a quality found in great athletes, the ability to self-motivate. These qualities coupled with his coach’s instruction have allowed Okabe to begin fine-tuning his skills since being at Vanguard.
Transitioning from life in Uganda to life in Southern California is a large part of the film. Okabe expressed his hope that the film will bring awareness to his country and inspiration to viewers. Thankful for the opportunity to have his story shared on TV, Okabe said: “I give God the glory. He is the one who made it possible.”
From his home in Uganda to the region of Southern California, Okabe’s purpose-filled journey brings hope and a reminder of the impact individuals can have on the world around them. Before coming to America, Okabe had never run in a marathon. Now, he has participated in marathons in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Orange County, and he is only one semester away from fulfilling his mission.
To read more about In a Race Against Time, click here.
To read the 2011 Fall/Winter Vanguard Magazine article about Okabe, click here.