Walk 4 Water fundraises for clean water

Lillie Eastham

On Sept. 17, Bowling Green residents will have a chance to help bring clean water to the people of Haiti with the fourth annual Walk 4 Water.

“Water is the foundation of every civilization,” Lydia Ramsey, a WKU alum and organizer of the event, said.

Participants will walk four miles beginning at Preston Miller Park to symbolize the distance many people throughout the world must travel to get water.

Ramsey first became involved with Walk 4 Water three years ago when she moved to Bowling Green. That was when she met Windy and Grant Cline, the married couple who started the event. Just 11 days before the walk, Grant Cline passed away from a sudden heart attack. In response, Windy Cline asked that people donate to Walk 4 Water as opposed to helping with funeral expenses.

“From there it just exploded,” Ramsey said.

That year, the walk raised $30,000. In Haiti, there is now a well built in Grant’s honor which the organizers visit each year.

All of the money raised in the walk goes toward building wells in Haiti because its close proximity allows the organizers to easily visit and ensure that the wells that are being maintained. Throughout the years, Ramsey said she has witnessed firsthand the quality of life increase around the areas they have provided with wells.

When the catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, it had a long-lasting impact on the water supply. Sewage pipes at a United Nations compound busted and led to water contamination throughout the country. Soon, a deadly cholera outbreak began due to the lack of clean water, Ramsey said.

With access to clean drinking water, cholera in the areas provided with wells has dropped to only one or two in six months, local doctors told Ramsey.

“People celebrate as soon as the water pours,” Ryan Cowles, Ramsey’s fiance, said.

Although they visit the country to make sure everything runs smoothly, Cowles and Ramsey explained that the Haitians are the true backbone of the project.

While Walk 4 Water provides the funds for the project, the Haitians participate in building the well. Each well is a community effort and Ramsey said that even the children are eager to pitch in to help bring clean water to their home.

“They want to learn,” Ramsey said. “They want to help.”

Ramsey hopes that the Haitians come out of the experience with valuable knowledge that can be utilized long after she leaves.

The event is a community effort and Ramsey says they hope to have many local vendors present as they have in the past. Participants will be provided with free refreshments and a t-shirt.

The walk in Bowling Green has grown to become one of the biggest in the nation, and last year they raised over $40,000 and were able to build eight wells in Haiti. Ramsey hopes that even those who can’t walk know that they can contribute. The ‘BGKY Walk4Water’ Facebook page lists several fundraisers leading up to the event at local restaurants and donations can be made online.

A fundraising event will be held on Sept. 7 at Freddy’s Custard and Steakburgers on Scottsville Rd., with a portion of the proceeds going to Walk 4 Water. Participants must present a flier found on their Facebook page when ordering.

Reporter Lillie Eastham can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected].