8:30 a.m., Sunday, April 18.
The foghorn sounds and hundreds of runners burst through the start line to begin their 6 kilometer trek through Brooklyn's ProspectPark
. Despite the unseasonably cold temperatures, New Yorkers came out in droves to support the Live Earth Run for Water.
Sponsored by Dow, the event took place in more than 150 cities worldwide during the 24 hours of April 18. With Earth Day just a few days away, it was the perfect time to get involved. The race distance represents the average distance that women and children around the world have to travel daily to gain access to water. Many times, this process of seeking out water is in vain because the water can be tainted by disease — diseases that are responsible for nearly 80 percent of all illnesses and deaths in the developing world.
Participating in my first-ever sponsored race, I was eager to run well for the whole race, and happy that my involvement was part of an international initiative to bring safety and education to developing countries. Funds raised throughout the run will support the Global Water Challenge
, a "coalition of 24 leading organizations in water ... committed to achieving its collective vision of universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation." The GWC takes a multi-faceted approach to the global water challenge by joining with other institutions to invest in small communities and connecting with policymakers to raise awareness. Perhaps its most significant impact, however, is school involvement.
In 2006, the GWC committed $500,000 to a schools project in Nyanza province in Kenya
. From there, support of schools has grown to reach Africa
, and North and Central America. By starting from the ground up and educating students about the importance of water safety, GWC hopes its message will gain strength through the generations.
Many music stars lent their names to the Brooklyn event, and performances took place at many of the Live Earth Runs around the world. Brooklyn was graced with the presence of The Roots and John Legend, who performed with great enthusiasm despite the early morning show time. (Click here to view a video of some of the live performance.)
Despite the presence of protesters who argued that Dow was the wrong company to be sponsoring a clean water event, the mood of the day was all positive. As I crossed the finish line at 40:42, I was proud to have accomplished something not only for myself but also for so many women and children around the world. Although my 6K run didn't make a huge impact on its own, this global initiative as a whole is astoundingly effective. And in the words of John Legend, "The world won't get no better if we just let it be. The world won't get no better, we have to change it, just you and me."
Below is a video detailing the severity of sanitation problems in Kenya's schools.
Photo: Megan Gallagher