Editor’s Letter: A Wet and Wild Ride — with Purpose

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When you hear the numbers - and we've all heard them - it's hard to comprehend: 768 million people around the world lack access to clean water; more than 2 billion don’t have adequate sanitation. Fortunately, there are some exceptional organizations trying to change those figures. But oftentimes, as individuals, we are left to wonder: what can WE do?

In 2005, Ken Howe, general manager of the Woodinville, WA, Water District, and Bill Persich of Brown and Caldwell had a wild idea. It started out simple enough: rather than take the conventional form of transportation to the annual AWWA event, why not opt for a more scenic alternative? Adventurists to the core, Ken and Bill decided they would ride their bikes to the conference, held that year in San Francisco.

"While at the convention, a couple caught me wearing one of my Harley shirts," Ken recalled. The shirt sported a Harley dealership in South Carolina, the very dealership from which the couple had just purchased their own bikes. In passing, Ken jokingly asked why they didn't ride from South Carolina to the conference, too. And just like that, a seed was planted.

The following year, AWWA would be held in San Antonio. Once again, Ken and Bill would make the 6,000 mile round trip by motorcycle. The conversation he'd had with the fellow Harley-lovers in San Francisco echoed in his mind, and he wondered: if they posted their route to San Antonio, maybe others would join. Better yet - maybe the ride could serve a greater purpose. "What if we could raise money for the non-profit Water For People?" Ken thought. "The idea really took hold. We knew it was something we had to do." And the Water Buffalo Charity Ride was born.

This first group of six Buffalos raised $20K that year. Fast forward to 2014: this amazing, hard-working - and hard-playing! - crew has raised nearly $700,000 for Water For People to help bring reliable access to clean water and sanitation to communities in need.

Water Buffalos

This year, the "herd" has grown to more than 70 Water Buffalos from 25 states and 4 Canadian provinces. Many of these folks will be riding thousands of miles to arrive at the AWWA conference in Boston on Sunday, June 8. The estimated time of arrival is 10:30 am at the conference host hotel, the Westin Boston Waterfront. Come on down to cheer them on and welcome them to Beantown! I know I'll be there. And I might even be on the back of a bike...

You can join in the fun, too. If you'd like to learn more or sponsor a rider, please visit www.RideWithPurpose.org.

Angela Godwin   Angela Godwin
Chief Editor, WaterWorld

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