It is difficult to believe that 2014 already marks the 7th annual Envision Financial Run For Water in Abbotsford.
The founding board members initially conceived of a fairly modest annual fundraising and running event, with monies raised going towards the building of clean water projects in southern Ethiopia. Fast forward seven years and it is far more accurate to characterize the Envision Financial Run For Water as a year round “movement”.
While much of the board and staff energy focuses on the run in late May, considerable time and resources are also dedicated to the creation of a new generation of compassionate global citizens. This is most profoundly realized in the development of the educational curriculum – the “Envision a Better World – Learn, Create, Run” program which equips teachers with turn-key learning resources for students ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 11.
Before the success and impact of the educational program is further explored, it is fair to acknowledge that without the awe-inspiring success of the run, the generosity of the sponsors, the energy of the volunteers and the enthusiasm of the participants, the dream of building additional programs and truly becoming a “movement” would not be possible.
Consider the following facts:
• In 2008, the event’s initial year, the Envision Financial Run For Water (comprised of a 5k, 10k and ½ marathon) attracted 650 participants – more than double the number the board had anticipated. These participants generously donated more than $23,000 to help people they will likely never meet – people in southern Ethiopia who lacked one of life’s basic necessities – clean water;
• In 2011, a Boston Qualifying marathon was added to the roster of runs marking the Envision Financial Run For Water as one of only four events in BC with that designation;
• Also in 2011, world-renowned ultra-runner and global crusader Ray Zahab began leading a team-based 55km ultra-marathon on the Saturday preceding the run. The event is capped at 20 runners who pay nothing to enter the event but must raise at least $1,500 for the clean water cause in order to be eligible;
• In 2013, the event attracted close to 5,000 participants marking it as one of the largest running events of its kind in B.C. The generosity and dedication of donors and fundraisers resulted in over $350,000 raised to help those in need. Cumulatively, over the past seven years, over $1 million has been raised.
Perhaps the crowning achievement of the Envision Financial Run For Water has been the unique partnership it has with its title sponsor. Envision Financial first came on board as a partner in 2009 and, given the unique cause and the overwhelming community support, identified an opportunity to engage teachers and students to learn more about the importance of having access to clean water and what it means for people to live without this basic necessity. With clean water as the “filter” for learning, an extensive curriculum has been developed for learners of all ages. Participating schools can hold their own mini-run supported by the program, have access to speakers and resources for school-wide assemblies and are encouraged to fundraise for the cause. Notably, in 2013, participating schools raised over $70,000!
Everyone who touches this event – from students and teachers to sponsors, volunteers and board members – can take pride in the fact that lives are being changed as a result of their contributions, big or small. Those living without clean water today can have their lives changed tomorrow with the provision of a water point that gives them health, dignity, economic possibility and an equal opportunity for young girls and women who no longer have to spend their days retrieving water from unreliable and dirty sources.
Locally, lives are changed when young people grow to understand that the life they’ve been given is a gift not to be squandered; that compassion for others is one of the most fundamental virtues and that they can make a real and lasting difference in the lives of people a world away.