A Vermont high schooler runs for refugees

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Olivia Pintair, 17, of Williston, has been training for months for a 90-mile trek across Vermont. It started at the Lake Champlain Waterfront in Burlington Thursday and the trek ends Saturday at the Connecticut River in Newbury.

Pintair says she runs for fun but not everyone has that luxury.

"Millions of other people run because they really don't have another choice, they are forced to flee their homes and that's why we wanted to do this project to honor those people and support those people," Pintair said.

Pintair, her dad Alex and her friend Mae Burris-Wells from Massachusetts are donating all the money they raise from the run to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

According to the USCRI, there are currently more than 11 million refugees trying to leave Syria. This week, President Trump called for cuts to legal immigration, where applicants who are wealthier and speak English will be prioritized.

The USCRI says thousands of refugees have made Vermont their home in the last 25 years, but the new bill would cut the number of refugees admitted each year from 110,000 to 50,000, the fewest refugees admitted since the program started in the late 1970s.

"We are leaving folks in desperate conditions that is really contrary to who we are as a country," says the director of government and community relations for USCRI, Stacie Blake. "Specifically for Vermont, there are hundreds of people who will not escape these desperate situations."

That's exactly why Pintair, her friend and dad have hit the road in an effort to raise awareness and money, one step at a time.