Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Charity: Water - Taking a Waterwalk for India

My arms ache and my shoulders are about to give out. I quickly put one foot in front of the other, eager to reach the end of the runway. There, I set down the two yellow Jerry cans and shake out my arms, happy I did it, and shocked that anyone could carry those longer than the forty feet I just walked. And yet women and children all over the world do it every day, walking miles to collect water.

Last night, I had the privilege of attending an incredible fundraiser for Charity: Water, a non-profit organization determined to bring clean and safe drinking water to everyone in the world. As part of the event, they ask attendees to carry two Jerry cans, each filled with 40 pounds of water, and walk down a runway, which is only a fraction of what millions of people around the world walk. And so my friend Jessica and I decided to test ourselves--for a good cause--and carry the cans down the runway.
Charity:Water at W Chicago
Jessica carrying the cans
I figured it wouldn't be that hard, I mean, I lift, I'm in shape, and it's only a short runway. And yet when I pulled those cans off the floor, my muscles immediately started to burn. And once I started walking, it was hard to stop, since the weight seemed to force me forward. It was good there were two cans, as it helped to evenly distribute the weight on either side of me, otherwise it would have been much more difficult. I made it the whole way without stopping or putting down the cans, but I'm sure if I had to go much further, I wouldn't have been able to do it.

It really makes you think about how lucky we are to have access to clean water whenever we want it; how so many people in the world are forced to trek for miles just to get dirty, unsanitary water that could ultimately lead to disease and death. In fact, unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, according to the organization's website. The most affected are children, especially those younger than five.

The best part of the whole evening was knowing that by simply doing that walk one time, I helped people in need of clean water. In fact, for every person that walked, W Hotels will donate $45 to the Charity: Water cause.

This month's campaign is for India, and the goal is to raise $2 million by the end of September. Two thousand people have already started campaigns to raise money, and $568,917 has been collected to give families in India clean water. If you want to get involved, you can support and donate to any of the campaigns on the Charity: Water website. Or, if you want to start a campaign of your own, the next ones on the horizon are for Ethiopia and Cambodia.

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