CEDARVILLE — They saw lightning strike 100 yards away and had acid mine drainage around their calves.
But a group of paddle boarders from Cedarville University completed their mission and spread their message about the need for sustainable water projects in remote areas of the world. And they showcased the ability to transport necessary water well equipment on a waterway.
Pete Savard, an assistant nursing professor at CU and founder and chairman of the Global Water Consortium along with a team that included his 15-year-old daughter, Ainsley, and CU sophomore Cassie Rakowski, paddled the length of the Susquehanna River to raise awareness and funds for water projects.
That’s 444 miles from Cooperstown, N.Y. to Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. In the time it took them to complete their journey, 126,540 kids in Kenya and India died due to lack of water.
“We wanted to save lives,” Pete Savard said of the #SUP4WATER event. “What we can do, we can come in with equipment and manufacture safe water. We wanted to prove the equipment could go from village to village.”
With the equipment that was strapped to the paddle boards, the consortium can suck in unsafe water and turn it into potable water at a rate of 21,000 liters per day. With more equipment they can produce up to 100,000 liters daily.
The goal is to raise $1 for each of the aforementioned children and if that is reached, the #SUP4WATER team will be able to provide safe drinking water to more than 265,000 in-need people. The consortium would be able to finish a project in Kenya, expand a current operation in India, and start a second India project.
The journey began June 20 and took a month to complete. They averaged between 9 and 11 miles each day and lost valuable time maneuvering through dams, setting up and tearing down camp sites and battling weather and yucky water.
“All kinds of different things happened along the way,” Pete Savard said.
Despite the inherent dangers of the journey, Ainsley Savard didn’t hesitate to strap on the life jacket and start paddling.
“I’ve known about the cause most of my life,” she said. “I saw this as an opportunity. Teens typically get this reputation as being lazy and self-centered. I saw it as an opportunity to prove people wrong. I also wanted to encourage people my own age they can do stuff like this too.”
Rakowski, a nursing major, was sold on the idea after attending a Mission Monday that Pete Savard holds.
“He showed us pictures, talked to us all about the kids who are dying over there,” she said. “I had the time to help. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I hope we can raise more awareness. It’s not a one-and-done thing.”
Pete Savard said the trip was successful and the fund-raising portion is underway.
Donations can be made online at www.globalwaterconsortium.org/donate.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.