Last year, Alex Covell and a group of James Madison High School students organized the first 50-mile walk, which raised $9,000 — almost double the $5,000 goal to benefit World Vision’s efforts to provide clean to people in developing communities, Covell said.
The World Health Organization estimates that 800,000 kids die each year due to diarrhea, which can be caused by unclean water.
“We were inspired to do this walk because of the staggering number of people who lack access to clean water, a resource us in the developed world don’t think twice about,” Covell said. “We are walking 50 miles because it takes on average $50 to get one more person lifelong access to clean water.”
Covell, who now attends Northern Virginia Community College, said that he came up with the idea for last year’s walk after he broke his wrist and was looking for something to do. “I probably had not walked more than 10 miles,” Covell noted.
So he decided to walk 50 miles from his family’s house to Baltimore, but no one wanted to join him.
Things changed when he saw the Vienna Presbyterian Church was hosting a 6K to support World Vision. “I really liked the cause,” Covell said. Working with the church’s missions team, Covell was able to find walkers for his 50-mile walk.
“We’ve shown that we can do it,” Covell said. “It’s been a little bit easier this year to get excited about it.”
This year’s walk will start at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1. Walkers can expect six rest stops along the route.
Initially, Covell said he was aiming for 100 walkers, but cut his goal back to 20 due to safety precautions because of the pandemic. The roughly 20 students and young adults will walk 50 miles from the W&OD Trailhead in Purcellville to the National Mall in D.C. Covell said he expects they will reach D.C. around 9 p.m.
For people wondering what walking 50 miles is like, Covell said the joints start to ache and blisters pop up on the feet. “It was a really cool experience — a little bit painful,” Covell said.
While there wasn’t any group training last year, Covell said the team had two 20-mile walks recently to prepare.
As of today, the event has raised $9,700 of the $50,000 goal. “The reaction has been very positive,” Covell said. “As people are donating, oftentimes they leave messages that are encouraging.”
Like last year, the donations will support World Vision. “By walking, we are trying to help World Vision elevate this suffering,” Covell said. To date, World Vision has helped 3.2 million people get access to clean water, according to its website.
People who want to support the cause can donate, sign up to walk or volunteer to help on the day of the walk.