According to RunningUSA, almost 14 million Americans completed some type of road race in 2011, representing a 170 percent increase since 1991. Road races of all distances and challenges are quickly becoming the rage. This fact hasn’t escaped the notice of the youth of the Sioux Falls Adventist Church, who wanted to find an innovative way to reach out to their community while benefiting those in need around the world. Thus, the idea for the Beyond the 5–Walk for Water event was born.

On the move

Walk for Water challenged participants to walk a 5K course (just over three miles) while carrying one gallon of water. By collecting sponsorship pledges, participants could raise funds for ADRA International to help install a water well in the country of East Timor. In this region of the world, women and children spend as much as two hours each day fetching dirty water from the river for their families. This event would allow participants to experience the challenge of carrying even a small amount of the five gallons of water considered necessary for each day.

Walk for water

Last June, over 50 people gathered at Pasley Park in Sioux Falls to participate in the walk. The Beyond the 5 team provided backpacks and gallon containers, and then the first walkers were off. Four church members (Mark Blackburn, Pastor Dragos Profir, Chad Spanos and Trent Weber) took the challenge to a whole new level by each carrying five gallons of water, with Trent hauling an amazing 10 gallons for the entire distance!

To date the Walk has raised over $1400 and pledges are still being received. Community members were excited to see what was happening—some even offered donations to walkers on the course. Many people said they would love to participate in this event next year. Walking for a purpose was a huge success and met all our goals of promoting a healthy lifestyle, connecting with our community, and helping those in need.

Author Aileen Profir, wife of Sioux Falls, SD pastor Dragos Profir, is currently training for her second half-marathon.