BY EVAN BUHLER
Red Deer Express
The energy was electric at Eastview Middle School on May 10 as Spencer West and Free The Children made a stop along their 300km walk from Edmonton to Calgary.
West and his two best friends David Johnson and Alex Meers are walking for Free The Children’s We Walk 4Water campaign in an effort to provide permanent sources of clean water for over 100,000 people worldwide.
“Eleven days of walking will put a lot of strain on our joints, but we’re ready to endure the physical and mental exhaustion that might come our way for an important cause, and we’re counting on Alberta to help,” said West, a Me to We motivation speaker.
Until May 16th, West and his team will meet with hundreds of students and teachers at local schools, hosting rallies as a way to kick-off their We Walk 4Water fundraising efforts.
“As you can tell our kids are a little jacked up to be here,” said Dean Pasiuk, principal of Eastview Middle School, before introducing West on stage.
West and his friends praised the Eastview students and the staff’s success in raising money for the We Walk 4Water campaign.
“Everyone from educators to Grade 6, 7, 8, 9 students, thank you so much – you have been so inspiring and the dedication that you have shown has been incredible,” said Meers.
In addition to West and his friends, Olympic curling gold medallist Marc Kennedy and Coca-Cola cover artist winner Tyler Shaw also made appearances and participated in Eastview’s own Walk 4Water walk around their school.
“It’s you guys that are helping us make this run possible thanks to your generous support,” said Johnson.
The walk started in Edmonton and made its way through Beamont, Leduc, Millet, Wetaskiwin, Ponoka, Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer, Olds, Didsbury, Carstairs, Crossfield, Airdrie, and finally Calgary.
Over the weekend West and company stopped at the SUBWAY®, one of the walk’s sponsors, on Gasoline Alley and sliced down the middle of a six ft. sandwich marking the halfway point in the walk.
This walk for water is not the first time that West and his friends have undertaken a daunting challenge to raise money for clean water projects.
Last year, West, Johnson, and Meers summited the tallest peak in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, raising half a million dollars in the process.
“Summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro last summer with my two buddies Alex and David by my side was life-changing, though this new challenge from Edmonton to Calgary could prove to be much more difficult,” said West.
After a 2008 volunteer trip to the Maasai Mari region in Kenya building schools, West said he found his true calling – to motivate and inspire people around the world as a voice of social change.
West credits a talk he had with a young Maasai girl as the moment in his life when he knew he had to make a difference in the world.
“She said to me, ‘I didn’t know this (referring to the fact that West had his legs amputated at his pelvis at the age of five) could happen to white people’,” West recalls.
Since then West has become a motivational speaker for Me to We, travelling around the world reaching millions, including corporations, students and teachers, faith-based groups, and families encouraging them to become more socially active in their communities.
West is also an international facilitator in Kenya, India and at the Arizona-Mexico boarder, leading hundreds of students on Me to We international volunteer trips.
In addition to being involved with Me to We, West is also and ambassador for Free The Children where he has helped to build a number of schools and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for clean water initiatives around the world.