The event, which supports safe drinking water in India, is a partnership with Proctor and Gamble and the Maharashtra Institute of Technology in Pune, India.
“The distance symbolizes how far people in developing countries have to walk on average for water, which often isn’t safe to drink,” said Sydney Huneycutt, a senior in marketing and co-organizer of the project. “Participants will have the option to carry two gallons of water during the walk to give them a sense of what some children have to face on a daily basis.”
According to the World Resources Institute, 54 percent of India faces a high level of water-related stress. Polluted water in developing countries causes illnesses that kill more people, mostly children, than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
The first Hands Across the Water walk was held in 2008 and has since spread to forty-three schools, raising more than $100,000. The fundraiser is part of P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Project, an initiative brought to campus by UT freshman Michael Van Dorselear.
This is the first time the event has been held internationally. UT students have worked with their Indian counterparts to organize a 6K walk in Pune, India, on the same day.
Proceeds from both walks will purchase P&G water purification packets, which remove more than 99 percent of bacteria, viruses, parasites, heavy metals, chemicals, and solid waste.
“The Indian students and faculty members have already demonstrated how the chemical packs work to villagers in Bazaarwadi,” said Ernie Cadotte, Fisher Professor of Innovative Learning in the Haslam College of Business. “They have been distributing samples of the initial 2,000 packets that P&G donated and are exploring opportunities to expand this initiative to other rural villages and schools in India.”
Cadotte’s students have raised $3,200 in sponsorships from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Est8te, and the Trust Company among others. Their goal is to raise $5,000 so they can send 50,000 water purification packets to India.
The walk begins in Circle Park and will follow a route along Neyland Drive past UT Gardens and Andy Holt Tower. The event will include a water purification demonstration and prizes from Amazon. Registration starts at $10.
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