Running a marathon is no easy feat to accomplish, but just imagine carrying an extra 45 pounds with you for those 26 miles.
You might be thinking that there’s no way you’d try that, but would you change your mind if you knew it could help people who don’t have access to clean drinking water?
23-year-old James Leitner has been running a marathon every month while carrying a 45-pound jug of water to raise awareness about the long journeys people take every day just to find water. Every grueling race he finishes helps the Philadelphia-Serengeti Alliance — a nonprofit organization committed to providing clean drinking water to areas in Tanzania — build wells for villages that desperately need them. He completed his ninth marathon on January 7, and has three more to go before accomplishing his goal of raising $15,000 for this great cause.
The West Virginia resident says his perspective on life changed forever while he was doing research for a paper in high school. He learned that nearly one billion people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water.
“Children five years old, walking ten miles a day carrying 45lbs of
water, the idea baffled me. I decided at that moment that I wanted to
work in another country and dedicate my entire life to provide clean
drinking water,” he says.
The weight of the jug is significant because “45lbs is equal to 5 gallons of water. That amount is enough for one person to do what they need for water, whether washing, bathing, drinking, or cleaning.”
After helping a nonprofit organization raise enough money to build a well in the Central African Republic in his last year of high school, he wanted to do more. While he was in college, he helped a Tanzanian woman build three wells in three villages, providing water to about 20,000 people.
Leitner knew he wanted to devote his life to this cause when an eight-year-old boy told him that he would no longer have to spend entire days getting water for his five family members.
He’s always been a great runner, so he decided to run a marathon every month while carrying a water jug. He trained for four months before completing his first one in May 2016.
His mission definitely hasn’t been easy — each marathon takes him about six hours to finish, leaving him sore and exhausted afterward. He’s also run in the freezing cold while it was snowing, but it’s all worth it to him.
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We’re wishing Leitner all the best on his incredible journey!
If you’d like to contribute to this cause, you can donate to the Philadelphia-Serengeti Alliance here, and be sure to share this inspiring story with others to raise awareness about the clean water crisis.