A group of runners and walkers will carry the weight of a worldwide problem on their backs during the 2014 Capital City Half Marathon.
PackH20 and the Thanks Be To God Foundation are teaming up to equip up to 250 runners and walkers with backpacks designed to provide a clean-water transportation option for those in third-world countries and other water-stressed areas.
The Thanks To Be God Foundation and its founder, Dwight Smith, is donating $2,500 to purchase 250 backpacks for runners and walkers to wear during the Capital City Half Marathon, Patr�n Quarter Marathon or Commit To Be Fit 5K. After the race, the backpacks will be collected and send to those in need in countries such as Haiti, Guatemala, and Kenya.
“Our goal is to raise awareness that the issue of transporting clean water is often greater than access to water,” Smith said. “Women in some of these countries have to walk five miles or more, often with water in dirty buckets. These backpacks help solve that problem.”
The backpacks were designed and manufactured by Greif, Inc., an industrial packaging company based in Delaware, Ohio. Greif CEO David Fischer realized the need for the backpacks while volunteering in Haiti following the devastating earthquake in 2010.
PackH20, a non-profit initiative, has partnered with Columbus based Impact Economics, an NCT Ventures portfolio company; working to distribute the backpacks worldwide. The initiative was converted to non-profit earlier this year, and has already distributed more than 100,000 backpacks, said Kelsey Langdale of PackH20.
“There are 100,00 backpacks out there, helping about 500,000 people,” Langdale said. “But we always like to remind people that there are almost 1 billion people that still need this kind of help.”
The Capital City Half Marathon will offer the opportunity to raise awareness for the PackH20 initiative while symbolizing the struggles many go through to transport water on a daily basis.
“Whether you walk five minutes or five miles, it is very important that you are able to transport water in a clean and safe fashion,” Langdale said. “The backpack relieves that pressure and makes it easier to transport water … and the water stays clean, which leads to less money spent on medications.”
The Thanks To Be God Foundation will purchase the first 250 backpacks to be worn during Cap City. Others interested in supporting the cause can donate $10 to pay for a donated backpack by visiting www.packh20.com.
“We are so happy to have met Dwight. He is so passionate about the cause and has literally carried his backpack with him all over the country,” Langdale said. “We have also seen many great causes promoted through marathons such as beating cancer and children's initiatives. We think this is a great opportunity to get people active with the backpack and talking about the issue.”