Students inspired to donate to clean water initiative
Thursday, May 23, 2013 11:33 am
Exhausted, sore and sleep-deprived, Spencer West arrived at Nose Creek Elementary on May 15 and still put a positive spin on the final trek of an 11-day, 300-kilometre journey.
“We’re very tired and our bodies are very sore,” West said, minutes before speaking to a gymnasium full of enthusiastic kids. “But we’re going to keep pushing until we make it.”
West, whose legs were amputated at the age of five due to a genetic disorder, is raising money for clean water in Kenya. His walk, which concluded on May 16 in Calgary, saw West traverse the Alberta highway from Edmonton to Calgary, making stops along the way to speak to supporters.
He spoke enthusiastically of the efforts of the kids at Nose Creek Elementary, who raised $5,000 in advance of West’s visit.
“Nose Creek has done incredible things for us. They do all sorts of incredible things on a regular basis,” West said.
West’s visit to the school was met with fevered anticipation. The school has framed photos on the wall from West’s last visit in September of 2011 and anxious bustling students waited in the gymnasium with signs at the ready, reading “We Walk with You!” or “We Love Spencer!”
The presentation in Nose Creek’s gymnasium featured hit CBS TV show Survivor winner Ethan Zohn, former U.S. soldier J.R. Martinez, who spoke about moving forward after suffering scarring burns in Iraq and MuchMusic Covers Contest winner Tyler Shaw, who performed his song Kiss Goodnight.
But students in the gymnasium frequently angled their necks to try to catch a glimpse of their hero, who waited near the side wall for his turn to speak. When Martinez called upon West, the gymnasium erupted in cheers as the motivational speaker took the stage.
“It’s been incredible,” West said of the journey. “We’ve been so overwhelmed by how people have supported us.”
West’s convoy has been stopped by cheering crowds on a frequent basis. The community of Hobbema was waiting for the group on the highway with signs after residents read about West’s journey.
“One of the coolest things that happened to us was this community rallying together and greeting us,” he said. “They thanked us for walking for water and thanked us for walking for Mother Earth.”
The walk for water isn’t the first large fundraiser West has undertaken. The 31-year-old climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in June of last year, raising more than $500,000 for the same cause.
West said that after graduating university in 2008 and getting involved in corporate America, he came to a realization.
“I just hated my life. I wanted more from life. I wanted more from life than a paycheque and material possessions,” he said.
West’s journey concluded in Calgary on May 16. The campaign, which is focused on raising awareness and funds for Free The Children’s year-long water initiative, has nearly met the intended goal of providing clean water for 100,000 people in Kenya for life.
For more information on West’s journey, visit freethechildren.com