When James King '03 learned of fellow alumnus and former football teammate Chris Long's '04 Waterboys initiative providing clean water access to those in need, he knew he had to help.
"I invited Chris to a birthday dinner a few years ago and told him that if he ever needed assistance with fundraising and/or the climb that I'd be more than willing to help," remembered King. "I honestly thought that he'd say no, but Chris was more than accommodating and excited for me to join the team. Several months later, I received an email from the organization and began fundraising and training."
King, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who served two combat tours overseas, will join Long and Green Beret and former Seattle Seahawk Nate Boyer for their annual "Conquering Kili" expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak. This year's Class of 2019 will include five other veterans and four more retired professional athletes, all of whom are actively fundraising to cover the cost of building at least one deep borehole well and to cover the cost of the trip.
"Having access to clean water is definitely on the list of things that I take for granted each day," said King. "The task of collecting water in Tanzania typically falls on young women and girls, who sometimes walk up to ten miles a day to collect dirty water that they must then boil before using for drinking, cooking, washing, and irrigating their crops. The wells, which are drilled by local crews, provide water for up to seven thousand five hundred people and last for over two decades. Rather than spending their time walking to collect water each day, these people can now spend that time creating better futures for themselves and their families by going to school, farming, or creating items to sell, so they're really providing generational change. Additionally, they reduce the amount of water-borne illnesses that persist from drinking dirty water which kills one in five children under the age of five and is responsible for fifty percent of hospitalized patients worldwide."