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Harford residents run by the water in Havre de Grace, help bring clean water to Africa

Harford County residents recently gathered for the first time in support of an international awareness event, Walk on Water 5K Walk/Run, held June 16 at Tydings Park in Havre de Grace.

The 5K event, sponsored by the Harford County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., raised donations to bring clean water to African countries in need.

The sorority worked in conjunction with The Water Project Inc., a nonprofit organization to benefit communities around the world suffering from a lack of access to clean water. The Water Project Inc., to date, has funded more than 330 projects, helping more than 125,000 people improve their access to clean water and sanitation.

Funds raised at the 5K will go directly to the Water Project Inc. in support of bringing clean water to those suffering from unsanitary water conditions, as well as providing sanitation and cross-contamination education to any one of the Water Project-serviced African communities, which include Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Rwanda, India and the Sudan.

"So many of us take the clean water we have every morning to take our shower or brush our teeth for granted," Lora Williams, race director for the event, said, "This year, we wanted to something that would make a global impact while promoting healthy lifestyles, and raising awareness about the need for clean water for countries in need was a perfect fit."

Williams serves as chairperson for the healthy lifestyles committee, one of five program areas in which Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is focused.

Race participants ran the 5K course through downtown Havre de Grace early on a Saturday morning, beginning at the Gazebo in Tydings Park, on the waterfront.

"It was a beautiful course, for a beautiful cause," Dr. John Bellantoni, of Susquehanna OB/GYN, said. "It's so important to support grassroots efforts like these; if it doesn't start with us, then who will get this sort of work accomplished?"

One participant, Elaine Rumke, who placed as top female runner in her age group, said she runs about once a month.

"What better way to stay in shape and help others at the same time. My church does similar work as well in Kenya. I was happy to take part in this event," Rumke said.

"This is a great opportunity to support a project that contributes to the larger picture," Derrick Brockman, Harford County resident and member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Iota Nu chapter, said. "This was my first race and I'll be back for more."

The Water Project shares stories that inspire people to raise the money needed to build wells and conduct other water projects at schools, medical centers, churches and other public places in under-developed nations. With donations, this Christian not-for-profit organization and its partners are able to do the digging and construction needed to provide clean, safe water efficiently and sustainably. They also mobilize, train and follow up with local communities, helping ensure long-term success. For more information, visit http://thewaterproject.org/.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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