Maegen Mckay remembers the instant she knew what she wanted to do with her life. It was in ninth grade when she volunteered for the Envision Financial Run for Water.
“I got my T-shirt and it was cool, I still have it,” she said. “It was the moment I realized what I was passionate about.”Stationed in a remote area on the Half Marathon route, she and a few friends had the task of cheering on racers and passing out water.
“It was really exciting. We felt like we belonged and were making a difference in the community.” Mckay said until this experience she didn’t realize young people could make a difference.
The Run for Water Assembly program impacts 10,000 Fraser Valley students every year. Executive director Peg Peters said the program’s goal is to teach global citizenship, what it means to give back, and how to respond to the water crisis in Africa.
Culminating in Abbotsford’s premiere running event, Run for Water, this year’s event projects 4,500 runners participating in the 5K Fun Run, 10K Run, Half Marathon, Ultra Marathon, and, new for 2016, 10K Trail Race.
Showcasing incredible vistas of the Fraser Valley and Mission, this single-track trail on Sumas Mountain features more than 600 metres of elevation gain. Peters said he expects 150 to 200 trail runners for this aggressive race.
The $125 race fee each trail runner must raise will cover one family’s water needs in Sasiga, Ethiopia for life. The Run for Water Society plans to drill 10 new wells in Sasiga with the money raised from this year’s run.
“What excites me is to stand at the starting line of this brand-new race and to know every single runner is representing a family in Sasiga that will be getting clean water,” he said.
Now in its ninth year, Run for Water has raised $1,650,000 from 22,645 participating runners. When registering, runners agree to raise different amounts based on which run they’re participating in. Every dollar raised goes towards the water projects as local sponsors and the Run for Water board cover all event costs.
“It’s a great example of these companies in our community who love the event, want to get involved, and want to give back,” Peters said.
This year, Mckay plans to run the 10K here and has started training for a special Run for Water in November. Now in her first year studying global development at University of the Fraser Valley, Mckay has been invited to travel to Ethiopia with Run for Water donors and see first-hand the work being done. She will also take part in a special run, travelling five to eight kilometres per day for 10 days.
“The thought of getting to run in Ethiopia is going to be life changing,” she said. Mckay said she’s excited to bridge the gap between Abbotsford and Ethiopia as well as get the chance to do hands-on work.
“The mentorship and the skills I’ve learned from people such as Peg have inspired me. They’re the people who have helped me realize what I’m passionate about.”
On Saturday May 28 the 10K Trail Race and Ultra Marathon take place. Sunday, May 29 features the Half Marathon, 10K Run, and 5K Fun Run events. If you are looking to stay in Abbotsford for the weekend, check out the stay packages here.
Visit runforwater.ca for more information and to register to run or volunteer.
Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.