Water4’s inaugural Walk4Water, presented by the Jasco Giving Hope Foundation, took place on Saturday, October 5 at Wheeler Park in Oklahoma City. Over 1,100 participants and volunteers showed up on behalf of the millions worldwide who walk daily to fetch their water, and together, they raised over $533,000 (and counting!) for safe water projects.
Walkers started by carrying an empty bucket, filling it up at the halfway point of the walk, and then finished the remainder with a full bucket of water. As they walked, they experienced a small glimpse into the life of the millions worldwide who are forced to make the daily walk to collect water.
Courtney and Aaron Ward, along with their three boys, Noah, Kannon and Maxx, flew from Maryland all the way to OKC to lace up their sneakers and walk in solidarity with those millions. As committed partners of Water4, they literally took the next steps in support of the mission to provide access to safe water for every home, school and clinic in the countries where Water4 works.
In preparation for the walk, the Ward family took almost daily walks together. They used the time as an opportunity to talk as a family about how others around the world walk daily for their water. They also worked hard on fundraising, reaching out to family and friends to rally support.
“It has been amazing for all of us; and, although we cannot remotely grasp the true hardship of those making these daily walks, we are trying to open our minds and our hearts to understanding (even if it’s just a little bit). My oldest son, Noah, loves to tell people he is going for a walk and he will be carrying a REALLY heavy bucket and we are doing all of this so kids don’t have to anymore,” said Courtney.
In addition to their family’s financial support, the Wards have been specifically praying for and following the progress of Water4’s partner in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Access En Eau Et Development (AEDR).
Ben Liringa Koli, managing director of AEDR, attended the Walk4Water and shared with the family how their support is making a real difference. He explained to the Wards many of the difficulties his team faces in the field, shared fun challenges like having to occasionally climb trees while out in the field to connect to the cell network, and thanked them extensively for their prayer and partnership.
Following the walk, Ben shared how the Ward family’s made a difference in the work of AEDR, saying, “You have impacted the lives of so many people in our region by sharing your blessings from God with us. Our hearts are always full of joy as we see brothers and sisters abroad being ready to pray and give to us without any doubt for a great cause: eradicating the water crisis.”
Back home in Maryland, the family is using their Walk4Water buckets for recycling, as a planter and more, remembering Water4 and those who fight to provide safe water every time they look at them.
Thank you Ward family for walking with us, inspiring us, and supporting those in the field doing the hard work. We are grateful for you!