Run For Water A Family Affair For The Gibsons
Jen Gibson was brushing her teeth the other day at her Calgary home when her son Gedion had an urgent message for her.
"Turn off the water, Mum," said Gedion, who's 6 years old. "There's not enough to go around."
Gedion experienced that firsthand growing up in Ethiopia. His job was to help his mother carry water. Gedion and his brother, Taye, now 4 and middle in the above picture, were adopted by the Gibsons three years ago.
Their father, Duff Gibson, was a gold medalist in skeleton for Canada at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.
The Gibsons are doing their best to make sure their sons don't forget their roots and also feel a real loyalty to Ethiopia themselves.
That's why they're involved in Calgary's inaugural Run For Water on Saturday, September 10. Jen is the chair of the event and Duff is the spokesperson.
They're trying to raise money and funds for Hope International Development Agency's clean water projects in the Bonke region of Southern Ethiopia, which is the regions where their sons are from.
Gedion and Taye are doing their part, too. They're going to be setting up a lemonade stand with all funds going to the cause and will also take part in the 5k run with their Dad and are setting up a fundraising page to hit up their uncles and aunts for pledges.
The statistics are pretty frightening: Over 40,000 people die every week because of a lack of access to clean water, the majority of those children under the age of 5; a child dies from a water-borne disease every 15 seconds; roughly 80 per cent of Ethiopians need better drinking water facilities.
"The reason our boys were given up for adoption was lack of food, but clean water as well," said Jen Gibson. "It really struck us because so much can be avoided with just clean water.
"It's not just the health of the children there, but it's also providing options for children to go to school because they're not fetching water all day long. Then they're building gardens in their yard and they're able to have micro businesses."
The idea sprang from a Run For Water event in Abbotsford, B.C., which just had its fourth edition in May. To get an idea of the commitment involved there, you can watch this video "A Thirst for Africa," in which Abbotsford organizer Peg Peters goes to Ethiopia with his 12-year-old daughter to learn more about the potential impact they can have.
The Gibsons also eventually plan to go to Ethiopia with their sons to see the well site they are helping to build.
"I've told them we can actually see the work that this money has done by going to a well site to show them how much we can do to help these communities," said Jen Gibson. "We're just waiting until they'll be old enough to remember. It's going to be a really emotional trip."
Because of help from sponsors, 100 per cent of the funds from registration fees will go to the cause.
For more information, please check out the event website here.
Here are the Gibson lads training for their 5k. Think it's gonna be tough for Dad to keep up.
(Photos were taken by Jaime Hagel)