Wed, June 12, 2024

Walking for Water

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Steve Swanson is the former station manager of 88.3 WAFJ radio station in North Augusta.

A good brisk walk is always a good idea. A walk that has a major impact on the lives of others is even better.

People throughout the CSRA are getting ready for the fifth annual CSRA Walk for Water on Nov. 18, beginning and ending at SRP Park in North Augusta (the home of the GreenJackets baseball team). There are several walks in the area throughout the year that support important causes. This one is a bit unique, as you will soon discover.

The global water crisis impacts a full one-third of the world’s population daily. Millions of people around the world lack clean, safe drinking water. Many (often children) spend hours each day walking for miles to an unsanitary water source to collect water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. They use the water that’s available, despite it being unhealthy. Most of us give little or no thought to the effortless access we have to clean water. We merely turn on the faucet, and it appears!

The CSRA Walk for Water provides an opportunity to consider the plight of others. It raises awareness, challenges us to inform others, and provides financial support that helps build water systems in many parts of the world in desperate need.

The CSRA Walk for Water provides participants with the opportunity to get a taste of the circumstances many face in their day-to-day lives. It’s one thing to hear about the need for clean, safe water but awareness rises to another level when you carry a bucket, walk a distance to a water source, and then return to watch it become drinkable, useable, and safe.

Over treats at Café Dulce in Augusta, I spoke with Jeff Kertcher and Mike Fiedler who both serve on the leadership team for the CSRA Walk for Water effort. They are passionate about providing this opportunity for our area.

Here’s a quick overview of the event: Walkers will begin their journey with a festive feel at SRP Park. After walking about a mile and a half walk with an empty plastic bucket to St. Paul’s Church in downtown Augusta, the buckets are filled with dirty river water and then carried back to SRP Park. The collected water is then poured into a specially designed water filtration system (created by Water Mission) that quickly transforms it into safe, clean useable water. Walkers get a firsthand experience of what it’s like in many parts of the world where people make that kind of trek every day on their quest to find water.

The Walk for Water has two main focus points:

  1. The belief that everyone, no matter who or where they are, should be able to access clean safe water.
  2. Uncommon unity that comes from seeing the bond displayed when businesses, educational groups, churches, and others come together to make an impact.

The CSRA Walk for Water is organized and led entirely by dedicated volunteers. All the proceeds from the walk will be given to Water Mission – an organization based in North Charleston, S.C. (website: www.watermission.org) The ministry’s goal is to provide clean water solutions. They focus on customized solutions for each project they accept. They build the units and then offer ongoing support to the residents who directly benefit from the long-awaited source of water.

Mike said, “Water Mission is a collaborator. They just want to eradicate the global water crisis. They will work with any NGO or any other non-profit with the same goal. Since they began in 1998, they have provided access to clean water for more than eight million people.”

Jeff told a story a family shared with him. As the family rode home after the walk, they spent time talking about what it must be like to walk around 3 miles a day on average just to collect water for a family’s daily needs. Jeff says some of the best things about the walk are awareness, personal growth, and reflection.

This year, as in years past, the CSRA Walk for Water welcomes “anybody and everybody” to take part. It’s not uncommon to see entire families with strollers, dogs, and an occasional wagon being pulled along for the walk. A good number of folks contend that the walk is best experienced in a group. You can sign up to walk individually, as a couple, as a family, or with a group from work or church. Share the walk together!

One of the phrases that walk organizers often use is “Walk, so others don’t have to.”

Jeff said, speaking of walkers, “Will feel a sense of community and accomplishment. It’s a shared experience. A sense of pride and a sense of community. Also, a sense of accomplishment. They will see the result of what happens in different countries, as many struggle to get useable water.”

Organizers are hoping at least 600 walkers will participate. Gates open at 8 a.m. with the walk beginning at 9 a.m. There is a $25 per person fee to participate and a special price of $10 for students. You’ll find the information you need to register at www.csrawalkforwater.com. You can also follow CSRA Walk for Water on Facebook, Instagram, and Threads. If you represent a business that would like to get involved, you can also reach out through the website for more information.

Before we concluded our time together, Jeff was quick to point out that every dollar raised at the walk goes to Water Mission. Churches and corporate sponsors are defraying the other costs to make the walk a reality again this year.

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