Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hundreds run to bring clean water overseas

Seeking water — Runners of all ages ran, March 31, in support of Hunter Smith and his efforts to build wells for villages in Guatemala. Photo credit: Raquel Harmon

5k organized by local teen raises money to build wells

As the gun went off, a sea of nearly 300 people rounded the track, March 31, running with the purpose of bringing clean water to Guatemala.

As he watched each racer pass, 16-year-old Hunter Smith smiled. What started as an idea to raise money to build wells in impoverished Guatemalan villages finally cumulated into a fundraising effort that would provide more than five wells for the Guatemalan people.

“God’s really pulled everything together and the rain held off. Just looking at the group (of racers), I just thought, ‘God is so cool,’” Smith said. “(It’s amazing) to see him bring out so many people for the cause of clean water.”

The Agua Pura 5k race is the first race in Lynchburg to benefit Cause Life, an organization dedicated to providing developing country with clean water. Smith, a Lynchburg resident, created, promoted and directed the event which took place at Liberty’s outdoor track, all for the purpose of bringing hope to Guatemala.

Smith was burdened for the Guatemalan people after seeing their needs first hand on a church mission trip last summer.

“Being there and seeing the poverty taking place really impacted me and caused me to want to make a difference,” Smith said. “One clean water well is $5000, but it will provide clean water each day for the next 10 years. We just started brainstorming on how to do that and the idea of planning a race came about.”

After only three months of planning, the event featured a kids course and a 5k cross-campus race, and was a major success, according to Smith and other race organizers.

“It’s really been amazing to see such a great turn out,” Smith said.

Liberty student Hunter Nash teamed up with Smith to fundraise for the cause.

“I think today went really great,” Nash said. “It’s good to see the word get spread about Cause Life and basically providing clean water, which saves lives and provides the spiritual and physical needs of people around the world, including Guatemala.”

Cause Life’s president, Noel Yeatts, also participated in the race, supporting the work of Smith and his passion for the people of Guatemala.

“I think it went great. I’m so proud of Hunter. This race is obviously benefiting Cause Life, but he’s done all the work on his own and gone out there and got media coverage and sponsors and nearly 300 people, which is incredible for a first time race,” Yeatts said. “I think he’s a perfect example of what Cause Life’s all about. The message we try to get across is the difference that one person can make and how little it takes. Fifteen dollars can give somebody clean water. I think Hunter just took that and ran, and really built on that.”

Smith and Hunter, together through fundraising outside of the race and the contribution of business sponsors, raised more than $20,000. The total amount fundraised for building wells in Guatemala, between the race and individual funding, was $26,000. With that money, Cause Life will be able to build more than five wells.

“God’s really blown me away with this,” Smith said. “We’ll be impacting 2,500 people through these wells.”

Smith plans to continue to fundraise, making the Agua Pura race an annual event, reaching other countries that lack clean water.

“I plan on hosting this race year after year,” Smith said. “I want to see it grow and to really make a difference in the world.”

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