On February 14, 2016, nearly 21,000 people took to the streets of Los Angeles
for the Sketchers Performance LA Marathon.
But for 19 people running for
Team World Vision (TWV) from Village Christian, the focus was on children in Africa.
VCS participants raised a school-record $15,489 through this year’s
LA Marathon and Charity Relay, providing funds for clean water for approximately
310 kids via TWV projects.
TWV is a branch of World Vision focused on clean water projects in Africa.
According to the organization's estimates, every $50 donated can provide
clean water for one child for life.
This was the third year Village Christian fielded a team to run with TWV,
and despite a lower number of participants than prior years, fundraising
efforts were the most successful yet.
“Jesus is amazing. He did his ‘fishes and loaves’ thing
and multiplied our efforts,” said VCS Spiritual Life Director and
VCS TWV leader George Ratchford. “We shared the story that no kid
deserves to walk an average of 6 kilometers a day to collect water that
is often so dirty we would not even wash our cars with it. Through the
sharing of this story, we were able to raise more than $15,000. That's
300 kids – almost the size of our entire elementary school.”
Among this year’s runners were 16 high school students, many of whom
previously ran with TWV.
Participants had the option to either run the full 26.2-mile marathon,
which began at Dodger Stadium and ended in Santa Monica, or partner with
another team member in the Charity Relay. In the relay, each runner had
to complete 13.1 miles with the transition point located in Hollywood.
“I’ve never ran that far, and I’ve never experienced
the pain I experienced during the race,” said senior Ryan Valdiviez,
who ran the half marathon in 2014 and the full marathon this year. “It
showed me how far I could push myself mentally as well as physically.
It also helped me get stronger in my faith at the same time. I found myself
at moments in the race when I’d just look to God – ‘God,
help me get through this.’”
But despite the physical achievement, the runners really wanted to talk
about the impact they made in the lives of children they may never meet.
“I can’t know this is going on and not do anything about it,”
said junior and half-marathon runner Claire Muscat of the global clean
water crisis. “In the Bible, we are called to be God’s hand
and feet. I am a runner so I felt, ‘Hey God gave me this gift for
a reason, not to just race for my self and get my own glory, but to give
him glory and make a difference in the world.’”
“We ran those 13 miles so kids don’t have to walk those miles
ever again,” Muscat added.
According to organizations such as
The Water Project, an estimated one in 10 people lack access to clean water – numbers
pushing 1 billion people worldwide.
These statistics, along with stories of people – including young
children – walking dangerous miles for water had a resounding impact
on the participants, inspiring them to take action.
“It kind of opened my eyes,” Valdiviez said. “Everyone
thinks you have to be older to do this big thing to impact people in the
world. For me, I kind of realized that while not many people may know
about [TWV], we still impacted the world in a huge way. We are just students,
but we still impacted some.”
2016 VCS Team World Vision Student Runners:
- Young Ahn
- Justin Alecock
- Matthew Choi
- Isaiah Lee
- Ryan Lutz
- Claire Muscat
- Natalie Oganasian
- Sage Persing
- Brittany Pubols
- Sarah Rawlings
- Brooke St. George
- Ashling Sui
- Ryan Valdiviez
- Recon Wan
- Wiju Wan
- SungJoon Yun
Photos: Team World Vision