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."
For King, many St. Anne's-Belfield School faculty members have had a lasting impact including fifth grade physical education teacher Joe Hall who taught him to begin testing his physical limits at an early age. As for just his favorite memory of his time at the School?
"There are too many to mention," King said. "One that stands out was launching rockets on the athletic field above the middle school in science class. My rocket's parachute deployed perfectly and then a gust of wind carried it over a stand of nearby pine trees. As far as I know, it's still in orbit!"
To date, King has raised just over $15,000 for his "Conquering Kili" climb but is almost $10,000 short of his $25,000 goal.
"Every drop of support helps, so if anyone in the St. Anne's-Belfield community is willing and able to support this effort, I'd really appreciate it and more importantly, the people of Tanzania will be extremely grateful for their donation not matter how small," he said.
Those interesting in donating should visit King's page of the Waterboys website, https://waterboys.org/group/james-king/. Donations will likely be accepted through mid-February.