We are constantly in awe of our incredible fundraisers who give their time and creativity to help bring clean water and HIV/AIDS care to communities in Africa. Because our work is done through local partners in Africa, opportunities to volunteer in office for Blood:Water are few, so we consider our fundraisers to be our most consistent volunteers! They are our greatest asset, and the foundation of how Blood:Water began and where we are today. This summer, we were introduced to a fearless fundraiser, Ben Stephenson, who accomplished a lofty goal of completing a 50-mile race, all in the name of clean water and HIV/AIDS care for our friends in Africa!
Since most people only run when being chased, curiosity about how Ben prepared and conquered running 50 miles led us to seek him out to tell us more about his journey. His journey started in 2012 when he decided to mix his passion for running and Blood:Water to train for the Boston Marathon.
After a successful first race and fundraiser for Blood:Water, Ben decided to try again in 2015, but this time he wanted to take on an “ultramarathon.” The 50-mile Table Rock Ultramarathon began in Pisgah National Forest and ended at the top of Table Rock Mountain near Morganton, NC. Ben created a Be the Movement fundraising page, and asked his family and friends to support his efforts by making a donation to Blood:Water. With the cause in full effect, Ben dove headfirst into training!
According to Ben, his training weeks consisted of a 7-8 mile run every day, with a long run once over the weekend. His longest run pre-ultramarathon was his final weekend run, which totaled 28 miles. Considering most people struggle with getting up and driving 28 miles during their weekends, Ben’s efforts definitely caught our attention. He caught the attention of others, as well; by the time his race day rolled around, he had surpassed his initial fundraising goal by raising $1,553!
Before dawn on September 26, Ben began his 50-mile trek with a headlamp and his support team on the sidelines cheering him on. His cohort consisted of his biggest fans (parents and best friends), and his physical therapists who gave him a morale boost at mile 14 and 34. With the Blood:Water logo worn proudly on his shirt, Ben crossed the finish line and set a record for the course by finishing in 9 hours and 50 minutes!
We hope that you will join us in celebrating Ben’s amazing accomplishment. He says that his only regret was not taking a picture of the trophy with his Blood:Water shirt on so that more people could learn more about what we do! Thank you, Ben, and all of our fundraisers who work tirelessly and selflessly to help bring health and clean water to those who need it most.