Upcoming race in Milford brings clean water to Africa

Runners, walkers, donors, sponsors and race day volunteers are sought for the fifth annual Running Water for Africa 5K Race/Walk.

The timed event, with a kids' fun run, is organized by Uganda Farmers Inc. It will be held at 9 a.m. Oct. 3 at the Walnut Beach pavilion, 242 East Broadway.

United Farmers Inc. brings fresh water to remote villages in western Uganda. This year’s proceeds will benefit the people, school and medical center of Nganiko.

The run/walk course includes the boardwalk at Silver Sands State Park overlooking Long Island Sound and Charles Island. T-shirts will be given to all pre-registered participants and the first 50 people to register on race day.

Since 2006, when two Milford residents formed Uganda Farmers Inc., more than 30,000 people in remote villages in East Africa have gotten clean water for cooking, bathing and drinking.

Jane Holler and her husband, Dan Marecki, formed the non-profit Uganda Farmers Inc. in 2006 after being moved by a presentation a visiting priest made to parishioners at St. Gabriel’s Church in Milford.

The couple started by raising money for goats and other necessities, and they helped fund a micro-finance program to help African women start businesses before turning their attention to the need for water.

Holler and Marecki are both lawyers. While there are many causes in the world, Holler said the couple was moved to lead efforts to bring water to Uganda because water is one of life’s simple necessities.

“Clean water is just so basic,” Holler said. “Clean water is essential to life, and it doesn’t really cost much to get clean water.”

In December of 2013, the cost was $38,000 to hire an Italian drilling company to drill wells for a village in Ihunga, Uganda, a project that serves 7,000 people. The entire village got involved, digging trenches for the pipes.

One way the organization raises money is through the annual run/walk fundraiser

“We want to raise awareness and money to continue to provide the rural areas with the precious gift of clean water,” Marecki said.

“Water that’s fetched from streams must be boiled before drinking,” Marecki said. “Water that’s not boiled is life-threatening.”

Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in each age category in the Oct. 3 race/walk. Race director is Marty Schaivone; Holler is the coordinator.

Timing is by http://www.hitekracing.com.

Race day sign-up is 7:30-8:50 a.m.; the run/walk is at 9 a.m.; the kids’ fun run is at 8:40 a.m. Refreshments, trophies and a raffle will follow.

To pre-register or to make a tax-deductible donation, go to https://runsignup.com/Race/CT/Milford/RunningWaterForAfrica5K.

For details, call 203-376-3283 or visit www.ugandafarmersinc.org.

The local organization also raises money through sponsorships and donations. To become a race sponsor, contact Holler at 203-376-3283 or janeh@hollerandholler.com.

Donations may be made at the website, ugandafarmersinc.org, or mailed to Uganda Farmers, Inc. to 31 Cherry Street, Suite 109, Milford, CT 06460.

Holler and Marecki have visited the villages their efforts have benefited, and Holler said the visits are very rewarding.

Hundreds of people turn out to celebrate the gift of water with a ceremony that includes singing and dancing.

“They are such gracious, wonderful people,” Holler said.