I was one of over 27,000 people around the world who walked or ran the Global 6K for Water. Between our participation and corporate sponsors, 31,386 children will now have access to life-giving clean water! I joined other runners and walkers around the world to help bring drinking water to children around the world. The effort felt good. Judging from the smiling faces from other runners, everyone felt good. To personalize the event, we each wore a race bib with the name and photo of a child struggling to obtain clean water, along with our special T-shirt and our event medal. The name and image on the bib is not just “a” child. It is the exact child that the participant’s registration fee goes to. Each participant has the opportunity to continue their relationship with that exact child through monthly sponsorship, which allows for back-and-forth communication through letters, photos, drawings, etc.
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Chad Chinlund and his crew of volunteers welcomed area runners to beautiful Medalie Park, at Logan’s Landing, on May 6, 2017. The race was held along the TART Trail adjacent to lovely Boardman Lake. Why did Chad volunteer to direct the event? “The purpose of the race is to bring awareness to something we here in the United States can easily take for granted … clean water,” says Chad. “The lack of access to clean water in developing countries is the reason why nearly 1,000 children die every day (that’s more than AIDS and Malaria combined)! It is also the most preventable cause of death in the world! With Traverse City being surrounded by amazingly clean and clear water, I felt like it was a no-brainer to promote this event, as it can be easy to forget what the rest of the world has to deal with in terms of water.” While this is the first year that there is a host site in Traverse City, this is the fourth year the race has run. It began in 2014 with about 50 host sites and 1,500 people. The 6K has taken place in cities around the world. Chad and his wife, Kate, sponsor 4 children and have thoroughly enjoyed the relationship with them. “It’s also been great for our 4 biological children to have a ‘pen-pal’ relationship with kids from all over the world and we hope that it will continue to give them a better perspective on the blessings we have here in the United States,” Chad says.
The Global 6K for Water is more than just for raising awareness. The registration fee is the actual cost-per-child of getting a lasting water source to a community. The event has grown by leaps and bounds with this year having over 750 host sites!!! Another beautiful thing about the event is that almost anyone can do it. It’s not a typical ‘race’ to the finish line, as there will be no timers or computer chips. Participants set whatever pace they feel comfortable with. People can run it, walk it or even push a stroller.
The lack of clean water leads to so many barriers. Not only is most of the available water contaminated in these areas, the women and children that have to fetch this water have to walk an average of 6 kilometers (hence the reason for this event to be a 6K) to get it. This means that many children have to miss school to haul water and sadly, the daily journey for water can result in kidnapping and human trafficking.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization that brings more clean water to the developing world than any other non-governmental organization. Located in nearly 100 countries around the world, World Vision is the largest non-governmental provider of clean water in the developing world, providing a new person with clean water every 10 seconds. They use everything from wells to rain catchment systems to solar-powered pumps and pipelines to provide communities with long term sources of clean water. So this is not just a temporary Band-Aid that provides a limited source of bottled water, it provides lasting water that literally changes lives.
After a participant registers, they are sent a T-shirt as well as a race bib that bears the photo of the child they are walking/running for. A finisher medal was provided upon crossing the finish line.
I met Rob Dickinson and his wife Lindsey with their young daughter, Emerson, at the race. Rob told me why his family participates in this event: ”I love to run and helping with access to clean water is something small I can do to a make a big difference. Water is life.” Why does Rob run? He says; “I started running track my senior year in high school. I loved it, but right away got distracted and didn’t get back to running for over 10 years. I gained a bunch of weight and wanted to pull myself back into shape. I started walking everywhere while we lived in London. I shed a few pounds and started running again, running through cemeteries is a huge thing in London (well at least I saw a ton of people all the time), peaceful and calming runs every time.
“Got back to the states and ran my first 5K, the TC Zombie Run (sensing a slight theme here), back when they gave the survivors a head start. Quickly ran a 10K after that then a half marathon, then I found myself running the Bayshore Marathon, inspired by the runners in Boston that didn’t let the worst of humanity deter them. I run now for many reasons: my health, because others cannot, to be an example to my daughter, and to keep pushing myself. In fact my latest goal is coming to an end; I decided last year that I should run a half marathon every month for a year and April 22 will be the last run for to reach that goal, a 25K trail run here in TC. I spent 10-plus years on the sidelines knowing I’d love to participate in races just like this one, so any time a worthy cause comes along, I try to be there. I lost 60 pounds, went from right around 260 to 200 in a little less than two years. When I started to feel slow and sluggish and not very healthy (that I noticed anyway) I put myself back on track. When I first arrived back in the states I was down 30 or so pounds and going in the right direction, my new doc said that I should just keep it up. He wasn’t overly worried about any vitals, and they continued to improve, so we didn’t spend much time on those. I know that I was on my way to having health issues, but nothing serious to report here.”
Lindsey, Rob’s wife, ran the event 37 weeks pregnant with doctor’s approval. She runs two to three times every week. Lindsey says she supports all global clean-water events. Bart Den Boer, 65, walked the event. Bart says there is a great need for clean water and this is a simple, cost-effective solution. Emily Cherkasove and her daughter Emily were walking to support water initiatives. Grace Canfield, 14, is a future physical therapy student. Her friend Emma Miribelli ran to support the building of wells. “Nobody should have to drink infested water,” Emma says.
Chelsea Legget says she “was inspired by her girls to get out and support those in need.” Her daughters Lucy and Hattie led the way. Rielyn, age 6, was carried by dad Dan Reynolds, through the entire 6K! The Reynolds walked to help children get clean water.
Looking for a run/walk with a purpose? Join Chad Chinlund and the Global Run for Water next year. You will feel proud that you helped provide clean water around the world. Remember to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Mickey Fivenson is the former director of the National Cherry Festival Races. If you’d like tips on running, if you have a story to share how running has impacted your life, or if you would like coverage of your race, contact Mickey through the editor.