Milford 5K to help get running water to African villages

MILFORD — People will be hitting the streets at Walnut Beach later this month, all to get some exercise while helping get clean, running water to those in need in Africa.

Uganda Farmers, Inc. will be holding its Running Water for Africa 5K Race/Walk at Walnut Beach. The event starts at 9 a.m. on Sept. 24, but organizers are asking participants to arrive earlier for sign-in, which begins at 7:30 a.m. The children’s fun run will begin at 8:45 a.m.

This will be the event’s seventh year, said Cynthia Bevan, a board member for Uganda Farmers, Inc., a nonprofit organization that brings clean, running water to remote villages in Africa.

“Our president Jane Holler and CFO Dan Marecki had been to Africa and saw the need for fresh water,” Bevan added. “The kids go to dirty watering holes to bring water to boil and make it safe to drink. So many of them get sick because of the bacteria in the water.”

Those interested in participating must register online. All information is available on the website’s run sign-up page.

When Holler and Marecki first started Uganda Farmers, Inc., their initial focus was animals, Bevan said, but the pair saw the incredible need for water and thought it could do more to help in that area.

“We started doing the race as an idea to be a regular fundraiser year after year,” said Bevan. “(Holler) has contacts with people in Uganda, and she works through them, and we’ve helped many small villages that are out in the bush, and the villages themselves help dig the holes. Thousands of people have gotten fresh water through our efforts.”

The annual 5K usually draws around 100 people, but Bevan said organizers were pleased to see a spike in participation last year.

“Maybe it was people wanting to get out more coming out of COVID,” said Bevan. “I guess because it is a foreign thing, it’s a little bit harder, but the need is great, and many people have come through to help.”

Every year, the money raised goes towards a specific project. This year’s fundraiser is for building and drilling a well in a small village outside of Kasese, Uganda.

“We are grateful for any support anybody will be willing to give us. People are very generous, and we appreciate it,” said Bevan.