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THIRST DATE: Walk for Water raises awareness of global water issues — and $120k — at eighth annual Springs Preserve event

More than a thousand walkers, plus volunteers and one mayor gathered in the local desert Sept. 21 to raise awareness of worldwide water issues.

“Who ordered the perfect day?” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman asked the cheerful crowd about to embark on a three-mile trek in the mild morning sunshine at Springs Preserve.

One Drop, an international foundation created in 2007 by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté and dedicated to providing access to safe water in the world’s most vulnerable communities, hosts the annual Walk for Water.

Imagine walking miles just to bring a bucket back that’s barely enough to wash your sink full of dishes.
“(Laliberté) got all this going for us to talk about water preservation and water cleanliness and how we can help people in less fortunate areas that need clean water,” Goodman told the sea of turquoise-shirted walkers. “You’re all involved because you’re here.”

Then an energetic group of Cirque dancers led a warmup that included moves such as “The Q-Tip” and “Valley Girl.”

Ashley Webb managed to dance a little while simultaneously wrangling scores of Arbor View High School students, keeping an eye on her two older children and carrying the youngest, 10-month-old Colton, strapped to her chest.

“We do a bunch of community service events,” said Webb, a sports medicine teacher and advisor for a club of students interested in the healthcare industry. “Just to get (the students) out to see that there’s other problems in the world outside our little bubble. I was talking to them about how a lot of people in the world don’t have access to clean water. People don’t even have water to wash themselves.”

(Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau)

The Walk for Water, now in its eighth year, invites participants to carry a bucket of the wet stuff with them to better understand the plight of millions of people worldwide who have to travel miles each day to retrieve water.

Or two buckets, one in each hand, in the case of Jason Kelly.

“Anybody that’s carried a bucket for a living knows that two’s better than one,” said Kelly, the owner of a landscaping company, as he made his way along the course with his wife, Sarah. “See how I’m level? It balances you out.”

A friend told Kelly about the walk, and he found the cause worth supporting.

“I think it’s horrible that we have so much here while some people don’t have anything.”

While One Drop’s work is mainly focused in the developing world — India, Malawi, Colombia and Haiti, among other places — all proceeds raised from the Water Walk benefit local water initiatives. This year’s event netted approximately $120,000.

The foundation previously donated $1.25 million to develop WaterWorks, a permanent Springs Preserve exhibit that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the journey water takes to reach your tap.

(Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau)

Another One Drop fundraiser takes place in Las Vegas each spring. One Night for One Drop, a theatrical show featuring Cirque du Soleil cast and crew, has raised more than $40 million in support of the foundation’s global water initiatives since 2013.

More than 2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe water at home, according to One Drop. In the developing world, women and children are usually responsible for collecting water. In the time it takes a woman to walk miles each day for water, “she could have a job, take care of a home or start a business,” said Pien Koopman, One Drop’s communications manager.

One Drop works to bring sustainable, safe-water access to such communities in order to improve the lives of those who live there. “We don’t just go in, build and disappear,” Koopman said. “We empower communities to make changes, take them on and lead the next generation.”

Dawn Duranleau explained the cause to 8-year-old Jacob, her interview-shy son, as the two made their way along the trail at Springs Preserve.

“Imagine walking miles just to bring a bucket back that’s barely enough to wash your sink full of dishes,” Duranleau said. “It really does give you an appreciation for the resources we have and what we take for granted.”

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