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Walk4Water6 event promises ripple effect


Donations still coming in to support the cause

by: KEVIN CUMMINGS - Mike Kehoe, president of the Lake Oswego City Council, accepts a gift from Dr. Emmanuel Opong of World Vision. Hundreds turned out on a bright, sunny day to support Walk4Water6.Everyone from babies to politicians to Brownies to Bill Savage on a knee scooter showed up for Walk4Water6 on Saturday in Lake Oswego.

So many people came to help that a new record of 460 walkers was set and $50,000 was raised. As in the past, much more money should flow in over the coming days so the goal of raising $60,000 can be reached. Linda Favero, head of the planning committee, has every confidence this will happen.

“We always reach or exceed our goal,” Favero said.

The spirit of helping Zambians obtain fresh water, truly a life-or-death mission, has taken a strong hold in Lake Oswego. This is very gratifying to Savage, who along with his wife, Diane, founded WaterAfrica eight years ago. Savage had just undergone a knee operation prior to Saturday’s event, and so he had to get around the best he could on a knee scooter. But while his knee was ailing, his morale was soaring.

“People get such a sense of meaning from this event,” Savage said. “I know Diane and I certainly have.”

The hundreds of walkers, most of them carrying buckets, made the trek from Foothills Park to Oswego Lake and back again. It symbolizes what so many Zambian women have to do every day for their families to survive.

There were plenty of highlights on the day, but perhaps the most heart warming was Brownie Troop 40473 from Oregon City, little girls with big hearts, who not only raised $700 but set up five educational stations along the walk route.

“The Brownies came last year, and this year they wanted to raise money,” Savage said. “They had a display table with a beautiful model of a water station that included all of the elements that are needed. They worked very hard on it and were very proud of it.”

Why has Lake Oswego taken so strongly to this cause? Savage had some answers.

“It’s because this is a situation that touches people’s hearts deeply,” he said. “It is so significant when people have no access to clean water and are forced to drink such terrible stuff. This is a need that is so basic and people understand that.”

Beth Olen, a member of the planning committee, said participants take Walk4Water very personally.

“Many of the people who participated have child partners through World Vision,” she said, “so they have an individual’s face in mind when they walk. They know the stories of the children of Zambia.”

The water walkers walked to the festive beat of a merengue band from Lewis & Clark College, and they heard some inspiring words from guest speaker Dr. Emmanuel Opong, World Vision’s director of clean water programs in southern Africa. He has closely witnessed the stunning results of WaterAfrica raising $1 million since 2005. About 20,000 Zambians now have new lives because they have fresh water and sanitation.

“A small amount of money goes a long way,” Savage said. “It can change a life dramatically. Fifty dollars can provide clean water and sanitation for one person for the rest of their life.”

For more information, go to waterafrica.org.