Water 4 Water’s mission: lifetime impact

The swim team’s partnership with World Vision is changing lives both near and far.

Water 4 Water continues to streamline forward as they train to swim across Lake Michigan to raise money for clean water in Africa through World Vision.

The swim will be taking place Sept. 13, starting in Chicago and ending in Michigan City. Water 4 Water is focusing on the lives they are changing, not on the amount of donations they receive, as they continue to raise awareness for the need for clean water through the upcoming Festival of Ministries Week and by partnering with Monee Free Methodist Church.

The team began their journey with World Vision Oct. 2013 when Rev. Steven Spear spoke in chapel about running for water in Africa. The swim team was looking for a way to do missions work, according Calvin Price, Water 4 Water swimmer. Unlike other sports teams, they are not able to go on mission trips because they need to stay in close proximity to a pool.

“Most of us on the team have a heart for God and a heart for missions so we thought instead of doing a marathon run we could do a marathon swim,” Price said.

Working with World Vision, the swim team has an opportunity to directly impact lives they could not be able to influence. Every $50 raised provides one person with water for a lifetime. With a goal of $100,000, Water 4 Water is trying to impact 2,000 lives.

Although fundraising started out slow, the amount raised jumped from $2,000 to over $8,000 in the past month, according to Simon Pheasant, Water 4 Water swimmer.

A few weeks ago, the team received a donation of $1,000.

“That was amazing, absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, it was anonymous because we would love to express our thanks,” Pheasant said.

Instead of looking at it as a monetary amount, the team wants people to see it in terms of how many lives are being directly affected.

“Yes, we’re trying to raise money, but what we really want is to impact lives forever. For the rest of their time on this earth we want them to have clean water. Not worrying about picking up diseases every time they take a drink,” Pheasant said.

What touches every person that donates is that just $50 can change a life forever, Price said. He said a lot of people felt like it was God calling them to give that money.

“We’ve shared our story and we’ve allowed God to take it from there, and that’s what’s so special about this,” Price said.

Instead of looking at it as a monetary amount, the team wants people to see it in terms of how many lives are being directly affected.

For safety concerns, the team recently changed their swim route from starting in St. Joseph and swimming to Chicago to starting in Chicago and ending in Michigan City to avoid swimming across shipping channels. According to Pheasant, open water swims are always longer than the direct distance, so the entire route will be anywhere from 40 to 60 miles.

Price said that swimming a mile in open water could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on weather conditions.

Even though swimmers might be in the open water by themselves during their leg, Pheasant said the whole object of Water 4 Water is that they are doing it as a team. Now that everyone has returned to campus, training, getting donations, and finalizing details will become a joint mission.

One of the more important details they are praying for is the use of a second boat.

“We have one boat that Tiffany Ray’s father has committed and he will captaining it. She’s part of the Water 4 Water team and on the ONU swim team. We’ve got a number of avenues we are searching down to try to get another boat. It’s a 25 foot boat that would be able to withstand heavy swells on Lake Michigan,” Pheasant said.

Another detail that has come together is working with Spiritual Life. During Festival of Ministry week, Water 4 Water will be selling wristbands for two dollars and accepting donations.

“One hundred percent goes to the cause,” Pheasant said.

During chapel, the team will be showing another Water 4 Water video and tweeting #Water4Water2014.

“If we have 1,000 people in chapel tweet #Water4Water2014 it could be a trending topic on Twitter and help raise awareness for Water 4 Water,” Pheasant said.

Monee Free Methodist Church is also doing their part to help raise money for World Vision and are hosting a Water 4 Water Fun Fair Sept. 1 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Pastor Kevin DeVries of Monee Free Methodist Church said, “Our church is rallying around these students. We consider them a part of our church family and we almost feel like Water 4 Water is our own.”

He hopes the fair will help bring the community together as well as help Water 4 Water fundraiser.

The fair activities include a dunk tank that the swimmers will take turns sitting in, as well as a water balloon launcher, a slip ‘n slide, and carnival games. There will be a charge for throwing balls at the target of the dunk tank as well as for the water balloons, with all proceeds going to World Vision.

“I’ll sit in the dunk tank all day long,” Pheasant said with a chuckle.

Donation stations will be placed around the fair so people can donate online or with cash or check if they haven’t already donated, DeVries said.

The Village of Monee Fire Department will even be paying a visit – with a porta-pool, DeVries said.

The Water 4 Water swim will begin Sept. 13. Until then, the team will continue to pray, train and raise awareness for the need for clean water.

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