Campaign to Watch: A Village for a Village

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campaign: A Village for a Village
campaign goal: $10,000
has been fundraising since: May 16, 2012
mission statement: “Our mission for this year’s water walk was to lay a strong foundation for our walk, and to document it in such a way that wanting to participate in future years will become contagious to anyone who hears about what we’re doing.”

Jon and Chris Rich raise money for charity: water in a road race.

The Peachtree Road Race is an Atlanta institution. 60,000 people participate on the 6.2-mile course each year. Chris Rich decided that would be a great place to highlight the water crisis. How? By finishing with a full 40lb. Jerry can… and bringing a village with him.

You and your brother have fundraised for water before. How did you come up with this particular campaign?
Last year I ran the first half of the Peachtree Road Race carrying an empty Jerry can. At the halfway point, my brother filled it up, and I walked the remaining 3 miles of the race carrying the full 40lb. Jerry can. It was by far the most physically and mentally taxing thing that I have ever done. Oh, and I had clean water to drink at every mile marker, I was wearing nice running shoes, and I had people cheering me on the entire race. All this to say, I had to figure out a way to spread the word about the world water crisis.

Callie raises awareness about water with daughter, Evangeline, on her back.

What first motivated you to do something about the water crisis?
I was on vacation in Florida last June with my best friend’s family. When we ate out we always ordered soft drinks, and when we were at the condo we always drank bottled water because we did not like the sulfuric taste of the Florida water. On the way home, I had a revelation of just how blessed I was to be able to buy bottled water just because I didn’t like the taste of the tap. In the same breath, I realized just how ridiculous it was of me to do so, and I wanted to help bring water to people that struggle to get it every day.

What has been your biggest challenge and your best encouragement in this campaign?
Through this entire process, my biggest challenges were, without a doubt, organization and communication with 50 participants. One of my most memorable encouragements came when my mom handed me an envelope from my grandparents containing a check for $500 made out to charity: water. When I saw the amount, I thought to myself “Wow. I didn’t even ask them for a donation. But because they care about me, believe in me and what I am doing, they have made a legitimate sacrifice.” It was such an incredible feeling to have them want to be a part of this. Those two are prime examples of what it looks like to love others without condition.

50 people walked as part of Village for a Village to raise money for charity: water.

So the event happened on July 4 and you had 50 participants. How do you think it went?
When I first started dreaming up this day, I dreamed of 250 participants. The goal was to have 250 Atlantans carrying water so that a 250-person village would no longer have to walk miles every day to retrieve dirty water. That proved to be a little ambitious for our first year, and we ended up with around 50. Turns out 50 was the perfect number to draw the attention of thousands of people at the race. [They also caught the attention of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.]

What advice would you give to someone starting their own campaign?
Do it. Be bold. Go for it. Don’t take no for an answer and, when you run into road blocks, do not be detoured. Keep your eyes on the prize and fight for the people in the world without clean water.

Now that your event has concluded and you hope to wrap up your campaign next month… what comes next?
Ground work: First off – visiting fraternity and sorority chapter meetings, schools, and churches, spreading the word of what went down on July 4th, and how we can continue! Planning: There are 5k and 10k races all over the nation. Who is to say that there can’t be a “Village” of people carrying water at each of these races from Atlanta to New York City to Los Angeles? We are hoping to be able to update our website, establish a team, and begin bringing “A Village For A Village” to other states! Starting with the University of North Carolina and Duke University area.

Participants raise money for charity: water while walking with Village for a Village.

A few words from participants:
Carrying a toddler on my back and water in awkward jugs through the heat was a way for these people [in villages without water] to become a reality to me and those around me – strangers who are now someones we can no longer forget. – Callie Rich

As a mother, it is sobering to consider my three children’s probablity of survival if, only by chance, we had been born in a different part of the world. The Peachtree Road Race was my first active support of charity: water, and it has lit a fire in me and my family. – Nicole Bernard (participant from Durham, NC)

I thought I really believed in the mission of providing clean water to those without it, but after walking with five gallons of water just once, my heart was broken even further. I am honored to be a small part of the solution to this unacceptable global problem. – Christian Norman

My experience carrying water in the Peachtree Road Race was awful and amazing at the same time. I couldn’t imagine having to do that every day. – Paul Sanders

Like to run? Want to walk? If you’re doing a road race – or even if you’re not – you can raise money for charity: water, too. It’s easy! Get started here >.

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