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East County Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2019 8 months ago

Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch cause will hold water at annual event

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The event, set to take place at Nathan Benderson Park on March 30, is a fundraiser to provide water to a Peruvian community.
by: Andrew Atkins Staff Writer

The Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch is about to offer a chance to walk in someone else’s shoes on Saturday, March 30.

John Freeman, who oversees clean water and sanitation projects with the club, said the third annual Walk for Water at Nathan Benderson park is a way to both open people’s eyes and serve as a fundraiser.

“It’s simulating what it’s like for much of the developing world,” he said. “Usually it’s women and children, it’s going out and seeking water from a water source that is not clean and not safe.”

At the walk for water, volunteers will distribute buckets of water to participants who will then carry the buckets for about a mile walk.

Freeman emphasized the cost of needing to walk to get water in developing communities.

It takes time people could otherwise spend working or getting an education. Additionally, unsanitary water sources can lead to illness and disease.

The funds raised will go toward a project the local Rotary Club is working on in partnership with the South Carolina-based nonprofit Water Mission. The project seeks to bring a long-term clean water system for about 300 families in Picuro Yacu, Peru. The community, according to the proposal Water Mission generated for the Lakewood Ranch Rotary Club, is near the Amazon River but struggles with clean water due to the river’s pollution from agriculture, oil and gas and sewage.

The proposed clean water solution would be a solar powered water treatment system, according to the proposal.

“You’re going from unsafe water and unsanitary conditions to clean and safe water and it’s changing lives. It’s changing communities,” Freeman said.

The system and implementation itself will be a donation, but maintenance and water will be paid for and handled by the community and local leadership.

“It’s not free. It’s not a gimme,” he said.

Freeman said he hopes to raise $20,000 toward the $55,000 price tag of the system. Other funds will come from other fundraisers and separate donations.

Lakewood Ranch OBGYN is a sponsor for the event, and practice manager Christina Wengerd has participated since the first Walk for Water.

“Feeling what they feel on a daily basis, even though it’s just for a few hours, it just puts it into perspective,” she said. “It just makes you think about those people, and it makes you want to help and give more.”

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