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There is nothing better to me than when passions collide, and that’s just what they did for Joshua Aranda, CEO of Mission Matters Group, and me. Josh and I are both passionate about running because of the tremendous health challenges we’ve overcome, and we’re both passionate about sharing the love of God that we’ve experienced with others.

A few months ago, Josh called me and asked if I’d like to try to raise some money to fund water wells by doing something crazy. “Yes, I don’t need to hear the rest!” I said. The scheme was to run 84 miles, two loops around Mount Hood in Oregon, using its challenging Timberline Trail and the Pacific Coast Trail as our route. “Eighty-four miles is over 3 marathons,! People in the countries where Water4 works walk over 3 miles for water, so let’s fund three wells and serve nearly 1,000 people in doing so!” I said. We both used our vacation time, our resources, and a ton of time training for a route that was not only a longer distance than either of us had ever run, but would also deliver 20,000 feet in elevation gain (3.5 miles vertical) throughout the course. 

We anticipated 14 hours per loop, but the weather had another idea in mind. Huge sections of downed trees, sub-freezing temps, swollen rivers and iced boulders required for crossing, along with high winds, resulted in our first loop taking 19 hours to complete. A few dozen water crossings at night, on freshly re-iced boulders from where we had chipped ice away the first time, meant we needed to postpone our second loop. We regrouped, knowing we wouldn’t have a support crew for the second attempt, and decided to do two 20 mile out and back sections on the south side of the mountain the following day. 

15 hours later, we’d done it, and so had 100 unique donors who’d joined us along the way—84 miles, 21,000 feet in elevation gain, 3.2 marathons and that 3+ mile walk now ended for nearly 1,000 people through 3 wells funded with Water4. What Josh and I hope to share is that we can use our passions and resources to engage and excite others to join us in making the world a better place than we found it. God gives us all unique gifts, experiences and stories—intersecting those with and on behalf of others is where the magic happens. There may be easier ways to raise $8,300, but this was by far my favorite; until next time at least! 

Matt Hangen,

President and CEO, Water4.org

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