Church sponsors 6K walkathon for clean drinking water initiative

KAILUA-KONA — Clean drinking water is more or less a fact of life in the United States, but globally that makes the U.S. more the exception than the rule.

Waikoloa Community Church will hold its first World Vision 6K Walk for Water Saturday in Waikoloa, a fundraising initiative to help finance the construction of clean-water wells in places like Haiti, Honduras and various countries in Africa.

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Amblers are directed to meet at Kamakoa Nui Park off Paniolo Avenue where check-in will begin at 6 a.m. A warm-up session will commence at 6:45 a.m. followed by an opening prayer then a countdown to the walk’s official 7 a.m. start.

The interdenominational church, Waikoloa Village’s oldest place of worship, has long been involved in sponsoring impoverished children in other countries through a separate World Vision program.

When Pastor Greg Scott saw a YouTube video of a 5-year-old Kenyan named Cheru who walked 6 kilometers, or roughly 3.7 miles, every day to collect unhealthy water for her family’s survival, he decided his church should be a part of alleviating such problems.

“It really touched our hearts because you just take it for granted that you can walk into your kitchen or bathroom and turn a knob and instantly have clean water,” he said. “(Cheru collects) the same dirty water that oxen are going to the bathroom in and drinking. It was just crazy to consider that that’s the water source for so many people in the world. It was a real eye-opener for me.”

Also involved in the event are New Hope Waikoloa Church and Abundant Life United Pentecostal Church, said event chairman Bob Oftedal.

The fundraiser includes the 6-kilometer jaunt as a symbolic tribute to Cheru’s struggles and the difficulties of people like her all over the globe, though those who wish to donate aren’t required to actually walk the course.

Participants will follow a route up Paniolo Avenue to the course turnaround on Francolin Place. Sidewalk is available for the entire path. Volunteers will greet walkers at the finish line where medals will be awarded and water, as well as an array of refreshments, will be offered.

Oftedal said currently about 60 people are expected to be a part of the event, 10 or so of them as volunteers. Thus far, the church has raised around $3,000.

Those who wish to walk and/or donate can sign up online at https:www.teamworldvision.org\team\11132.

One special group of walkers and donors is part of Waikoloa Community Church itself. Oftedal offered a special thanks to 16 Marshallese children who sing in the keiki choir and are part of the church’s Sunday School program.

The kids had amassed $400 in a donation fund and were waiting for the right cause to come along. Their Sunday School teacher asked them one afternoon to raise their hands if they believed themselves to be poor, Oftedal said. Every hand in the room went up.

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Then they learned watched the same video Scott and Oftedal had, titled “Cheru’s Journey.” Upon finishing the video, the children immediately and unanimously voted to give all their $400 to support World Vision’s efforts to supply clean water to impoverished areas across the globe.

“It’s children helping children,” Oftedal said. “We just felt it was such a warm-hearted story to see that happen.”

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