Twenty five-year-old Daniel Okabe had never run a marathon before leaving his native Uganda to study Radio Broadcasting at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California in 2009. It was here that he would discover his hidden, yet natural talent for running. Coming from a nation where the average person lives on little more than a dollar a day, Okabe was forcibly thrust into the posh and glamorous lifestyle of Orange County. In his hometown of Mbale, Uganda, Daniel walked to school every day as a child, witnessing the poverty, violence, and political unrest firsthand that East Africans experience on a daily basis. Here in America, he finds himself living with a host family in an affluent neighborhood in Irvine, steering his Honda Civic hybrid car up the 405 North to campus daily.
Meanwhile in his village in Uganda, Daniel’s family works tirelessly with the community, housing over 300 children and feeding another 400 daily in the child care center and orphanage of a ministry they preside over called Impact Ministries. His father, Patrick, also operates a Christian radio station titled Faith Radio FM that reaches ten million listeners per day in Uganda and neighboring Kenya, addressing the various social ills of the community such as poverty and HIV/AIDS.
A recent requirement by the Uganda Communications Commission mandated that all radio stations in the country of Uganda be operated strictly by professionally trained individuals possessing a degree in Journalism or Mass Communications. This declaration, which threatened the livelihood of numerous stations in the region, including Faith Radio, has brought Daniel to America, with the continued viability of his family's radio station and the hopes of an entire village hanging in the balance. Although his two year program at Golden West will be coming to a close in the spring, he has been accepted into Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California, where he hopes to complete his Bachelor's degree before returning home to Uganda. In order to do that though, his family will have to raise $27,400 for tuition at Vanguard. If he’s unable to maintain enrollment in a college in the U.S., he will be forced to leave the country in 60 days, per immigration law.
In a Race Against Time follows Daniel, an innately gifted, yet unrefined runner with no formal coaching whatsoever, over a period of six months in 2011. The film chronicles his training and performance in the Honda Los Angeles Marathon, the Boston Marathon, and the Orange County Marathon, while simultaneously attempting to raise enough funding to stay in the country and earn a degree before his Student Visa expires. In addition to examining the culture clash that’s inherent within his assimilation into Southern California lifestyle, this documentary also encapsulates the incredible life experience that he’s enjoying, both studying and racing abroad here in the United States. His inspirational story is one of hope and a commentary on the impact that each of us can have on the world around us.