Change Makers

Wisconsin walkers raise money for clean water in Kenya

8 miles for water: A Wisconsin couple launched a fundraiser called “8 Miles for Water,” in recognition of a Kenyan woman who walked that many miles each day to get water.

In the summer of 2013, Craig Wyttenbach began to sense a new calling. He and his wife, Mara, saw a World Vision video about Sabina, a woman in Kenya who walked eight miles every day to get dirty water for her family. As he watched, the words of Luke 12:48 rang in Craig’s head: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. …” Soon the couple, already the sponsors of 10 children, started brainstorming what else they could do.

As co-owners of a fitness club in Middleton, Wisconsin, Craig and Mara knew the integral role water plays in training — not having access to it seemed unfathomable. In time, they developed a fundraiser called “8 Miles for Water” in recognition of Sabina, who walked eight miles each day for water. The experiential walk educates as well as raises money for clean water.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. …—LUKE 12:48 (NIV)

“Things like 5K’s or fun runs are certainly quality events, but we had a vision of something bigger that wasn’t maybe fun. But everything of value in life isn’t always fun,” Craig says.

To understand what it takes for millions of people to access water in the developing world, participants carry empty 1- to 5-gallon containers two miles to a stream, fill them with water, and walk back — twice. “You can never fully understand what someone else goes through, but if you can come close, there’d be a bigger impact,” Craig says.

Family, friends, and community members rallied around them. Last April 12, 74 people walked eight miles carrying jugs that, when full, weighed up to 70 pounds.

The feedback was favorable.

Some participants said the experience made them feel incredibly wealthy and that they needed to do more to help. Others were surprised how hard it was and how sore they felt. Beyond the emotional impact and awareness raised, some 200 people donated more than $33,000 to drill two wells in Uganda — providing clean water to 739 people living in poverty. But Craig and Mara aren’t done yet.

The couple now hopes to help 20,000 people in need — the population of Middleton — by raising more money through their World Vision fundraising website and by organizing more walking events. Craig and Mara also hope others around the country will replicate the event in their own communities.

“With our three children under the age of 5 who are the most vulnerable age bracket, we can’t imagine not being able to provide basic necessities for our children,” Craig says. “It feels like a requirement God put on our heart to do everything we can to help.”

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