For my 24th birthday, I decided to host my first Water Walk in benefit of my charity: water campaign. I had never heard of a water walk until 10 days prior. I was in a meeting with my charity: water project manager, Annalise, when I asked her if there were strategies for raising money I didn't know of, and she mentioned a "Water Walk."
A Water Walk is meant to simulate the walk women and children have to do daily to retrieve (dirty) water for their families. Typically it's run by determining a 2.5 - 4-mile route and then you (and hopefully a group) do the walk with water-filled jerry cans. It implements a certain realism of what these people have to do every day, that we never have to think of.
To answer something off the bat for those curious,
"Drew if you had only heard of a Water Walk 10 days prior to the walk, how did you have it on your list?"
Great question! Unfortunately, this was one of two items that needed to be changed. I had involved people on the list without their full permission or willingness, wrongly assuming they wanted to be involved, and furthermore removed those items needing to replace them. One item was serving someone else, the other was more for personal pleasure and wanted to honor those both as the original intentions. When I became familiar with the Water Walk it seemed like a natural exchange for the item serving someone else. The other item, one for personal pleasure, has officially been changed to #23 See the Golden Gate Bridge.
Full disclosure, I'm sad I had to change any items on the list as when I was making it each was very intentional. Regarding these certain items that were reliant on others, it was unfortunately necessary. The rest of the list remains the same and it's about honoring every year of my grandmothers' life which is 87 items. No hard feelings and back to the most epic year of my life.
10 days out I decided to just go for it. I think a lot of times we wait and wait and sit on decisions and when ones have great intentions it can never be considered failure. Given that I announced it on social media which instantly received pretty remarkable feedback, encouragement, and support. I was really excited. The walk was going to take place at 5 pm on Sunday, June 10th (my birthday) from Washington Square Park to Sheap Meadows Central Park, followed by a celebratory picnic (another list item). I had encouraged people to donate $30 prior, so whoever made the walk we would be simulating the journey, and also the number of lives we were changing as $30 provides one person with clean water.
When I announced the event I told myself I had zero expectations about attendance and would be equally as excited however large or small the group was. The days leading up to the walk, as the launching excitement settled, I started to get a better idea of the number attending, and it seemed to be on the fewer end of the spectrum. Friends were busy with work related things, with travels, with pre-made scheduling conflicts from dinners to workout classes. Then Sunday morning as birthday texts came in, and if they were friends from the city regularly ended with their reasoning for not being able to attend the walk.
Early afternoon I headed over to charity: water to meet Annalise and my friend James, to pick up the jerry cans. I was feeling a bit discouraged on my way over as I had naturally hoped this was going to make a big splash -- oh how expectations sneak in even when you tell yourself they won't. After a quick discussion of the reality of the situation, and a brief moment of considering if we should post-pone it in hopes of being more prepared, came to the conclusion that if it was literally just the three of us we would make the trek together.
The three of us made it to Washington Square Park 20 minutes early. We found a spot under a tree for coverage from the drizzle, and as we were talking suddenly, a little brunette asked if I was Drew. Come to learn her name was Xann and she was here for the walk. At that moment everything flipped, a stranger had shown up to be apart of something meaningful, and it was going to be just that. Then my buddy who also works at charity: water unexpectedly showed up named, Cubby. Then my pal Alec arrived.
And then two other strangers showed up, and at that moment below I had no idea how significantly they were going to impact me.
Meet Savanna and her mom, Julie.
We took a quick team photo before embarking on our Water Walk.
An army of eight set off which turned to nine when my roommate Rob met us a few blocks in. The group of us had the best time, in spite of the rain, and in spite of a few long Saturday nights. We were all there to do something bigger than a little rain and a little hangover, something bigger than us for people dealing with problems that far out weigh those little ones.
We made our way through midtown stopping to take a picture with something we all share, hope.
The walk flew by, and it was all high fives when we made our way into the entryway of Central Park South.
Now let's talk about Savanna.
The real story from this day is from 10 year old, Savanna. Along the way to Central Park, I got to talking with Savanna and Julie, fascinated by their story and how they had heard about the walk.
Before I had met them awaiting people to arrive, I was going through all of the donations to see if that would give me an accurate headcount for the walk. Listed on there was a donation of $28, the second largest single donation, from a Julie Dalton. I had no idea who Julie was.
I came to find out this was Julie Dalton, and the donation had a bit of a backstory. To bait you the two of them drove all the way from their home in Rhode Island just for the walk. I was so inspired by what I had heard my buddy James, who captured all of these brilliant images, presented the idea to conduct a quick interview so we could tell the story best. The video is on my IGTV if you follow the button below.
This picture will always stick out from this day. We're walking for all the women and children who have this unfair responsibility. I couldn't think of a more touching and ironic photo of that.
What was a rocky beginning turned out to be one of the best birthdays I ever had and am truly inspired by every single person that showed up. It's so funny to look back on things once you let them pay out. After the walk officially concluded, the group and I headed towards a midtown bar to celebrate. Those few blocks gave me a moment to reflect on how the walk went and how I was feeling about it all. I was so inspired, so grateful and was nauseous thinking about, even though it was only for a brief moment, considering postponing it. I just kept reminding myself that this wasn't about raising money, but more raising awareness and clearly we have more work to do... Something I'm encouraged and excited for.
All my love,